Friday, November 21, 2008

The Contender

Like often happens, what I'm reading or watching seems to have a topical link to current events (intentionally or otherwise). Last night, I watched the very good political thriller, The Contender, on Cox's OnDemand. It's from a few years ago (2000) but hits upon a lot of the stuff going on now with the vetting of candidates for the various cabinet positions in Barack Obama's administration. Joan Allen plays an appointee for VP in an administration where the Vice President has died. She must survive the vetting process and the political jockeying by the congressional committee in charge of approving the nomination.

It's a got a great cast which includes Allen, Jeff Bridges as the President, Sam Elliot, Christian Slater, William Peterson and my favorite actor, Gary Oldman as the committee chairman. It's written and directed by the very talented film-critic-turned-director Rod Lurie.

The Contender hits on a lot of the touchpoints of the last year's election cycle including the roles of gender, religion, and the media in the political process.

One of my favorite moments in the movie is a speech by Allen's character at the end of the hearing before the committee. It's one of those Mr. Smith Goes to Washington type speeches that, unfortunately, don't happen in real life, though you wish they did. Those raw bits of honesty without a filter that no modern politician would dream of. Here it is:

Uh, remarkably enough, it seems that I have some explaining to do.

So... let me be absolutely clear.

I stand for a woman's right to choose.

I stand for the elimination of the death penalty.

I stand for a strong and growing armed forces...

because we must stomp out genocide on this planet...

and I believe that that is a cause worth dying for.

I stand for seeing every gun taken out of every home. Period.

I stand for making the selling of cigarettes to our youth a federal offense.

I stand for term limits and campaign reform.

And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of church and state...

and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did.

It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government...

but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism.

I may be an atheist...

but that does not mean I do not go to church: I do go to church.

The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves...

that gave women the right to vote.

It gave us every freedom that we hold dear.

My church is this very chapel of democracy that we sit in together...

and I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes.

I need my heart, my brain and this church.

Amen. I'd be more inclined to vote for a person, even if I didn't agree with everything they said, if they had the guts to at least be honest.

The rest of the script can be found here.

"There's no trust, no faith, no honesty in men; all perjured, all forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers." -- William Shakespeare


Antimatter said...

I've heard of this film, but never got around to seeing it. That excerpt from the script has certainly piqued my interest - thanks!

Laura said...

An open atheist actually seriously considered for a high American public office... well now we KNOW it's fiction...