Saturday, December 6, 2008

44 and 43


I’m a little late to the party but have you read President-Elect Obama's first book? (Stay tuned for the review.) After hearing his Superman gag at the Al Smith dinner. It got me thinking:

Little Barry Obama loved comic books.

He was raised by a kindly old couple from Kansas.

After high school he lived in Gotham, where he worked as a writer and then moved to America's second largest metropolis with the goal of "making himself useful." His father figure was hard-nosed Jerry Wright (rhymes with Perry White).

In his early years he kept his background secret, afraid that his real identity would alienate people.

The woman he loves has two Ls in her name, like Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris.

His first act as president will be to restore the American way.

You'll never guess what the title of the first part of the book is:

Origins (a conceit from comic books).

Yup, he’s Superman.

Dreams from My Father is a memoir that reads like a bildungsroman, the colorful peregrinations of a young man in search of his identity. I recommend it highly. Ignore the nut jobs who claim that Bill Ayres wrote the first draft on the back of Obama’s Indonesian birth certificate.


Last week I paid 75 cents for the new format Post, circular size, and 12 bucks to see W. Great movie. Stacy Keach knocks it out of the park with an unironic turn as the reverend who brings W to the Lord. Laura Bush will be flattered as even in the later scenes she's portrayed by Elizabeth Banks with no wrinkles and still very sexy, like Pat Nixon (Joan Allen) in Oliver Stone's Nixon.

Josh Brolin is dangerously close to an impression but never crosses the line. That little actor who looks like Truman Capote is an amazing Karl Rove. Richard Dreyfuss is back as a movie star--his stock had been so low in Hollywood that he was forced, he said, to do regular TV (on a show I liked, The Education of Max Bickford, which introduced Katee Sackhoff to a network audience). Evil Dick Cheney is played with a twinkle in his eye as his policies come to fruition, his Halliburton portfolio bulges, and hundreds of thousands die.

Stone takes verbatim quotes we might know from watching Letterman’s “Great Moments in Presidential Speeches” series and puts them in different places, which is ok because I know the difference between a doc and fiction.

Why didn't this movie do better? Because people are tired of the subject. A surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a screwup on whom tough love failed but Jesus and will power succeeded.

I predict the real W the will become a popular TV evangelist as that’s where his heart lies. He won’t be making much money giving speeches but preaching something he knows he believes rather than something he thinks he believes in because smart people told him it’s so, might loosen his mangled tongue.

Next post: The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Wolf. This is a Naomi-explains-it-all, positing that the Chicago School and guru Milton Friedman are responsible for most of the worldwide political brutality and the intensely related economic shock and awe of the last 50 years. This replaces my father's Irishman's thesis: pick a point on the globe where there's trouble, any point, and you'll find the English were or are behind it. I almost dropped the book when she listed the overspending and bad-investing bums who first sponsored and finally took bailouts from the departing Argentine junta of the '80s: Citibank, Ford Motor Company, ... The usual suspects.

1 comment:

Brigid said...

Maybe I'll pick up the Obama book over the break. Haven't read anything for leisure since the semester started.