Peter Baker reports on President Obama’s frustrations in the New York Times:
In private, [Obama] has talked longingly of “going Bulworth,” a reference to a little-remembered 1998 Warren Beatty movie about a senator who risked it all to say what he really thought. While Mr. Beatty’s character had neither the power nor the platform of a president, the metaphor highlights Mr. Obama’s desire to be liberated from what he sees as the hindrances on him.
“Probably every president says that from time to time,” said David Axelrod, another longtime adviser who has heard Mr. Obama’s movie-inspired aspiration. “It’s probably cathartic just to say it. But the reality is that while you want to be truthful, you want to be straightforward, you also want to be practical about whatever you’re saying.”
Baker somewhat cluelessly adds this comment:
The cinematic allusion seems striking given Mr. Obama’s rejection of Hollywood’s version of the White House, what one former aide calls “the Harry Potter theory of the presidency,” which suggests that he could wave a wand and make things happen. At the White House Correspondents Association dinner last month, he bristled at the idea that he should pattern himself after Michael Douglas’s assertive character in “The American President.”
Turning to Mr. Douglas, who was in the audience, he jokingly asked what his secret was. “Could it be that you were an actor in an Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasy?” Mr. Obama asked. He added later, “I get frustrated sometimes.”
I say cluelessly because Obama’s presentation of himself as a world-historic, transformative figure is perfectly consistent with his current frustrations. Indeed, if he has any friends, they should try to cheer him up. He’s gone a long way toward the “fundamental transformation” of the United States he promised just before he trounced John Mccain in 2008.
In case you need some help with the Bulworth reference, IMDb has compiled quotes from the film. When Bulworth begins to say what he really thinks, he adopts a black persona and lays his shtick down in rap, as in his praise of socialized medicine:
Bulworth: Yo, everybody gonna get sick someday / But nobody knows how they gonna pay / Health care, managed care, HMOs / Ain’t gonna work, no sir, not those / ‘Cause the thing that’s the same in every one of these / Is these mother******* there, the insurance companies!
Cheryl and Tanya: Insurance! Insurance!
Bulworth: Yeah, yeah / You can call it single-payer or Canadian way / Only socialized medicine will ever save the day! Come on now, lemme hear that dirty word – SOCIALISM!
There is a reason Bulworth is little remembered. It falls into a long line of lame liberal satire. But Baker’s report is really interesting. One wishes Baker’s curiosity weren’t so constrained. Dig a little deeper, man! What deep truths is Obama longing to share with the American people?
He’s already told us he prefers “single-payer or Canadian way,” to take the Bulworthian example above. He hasn’t gone so far as to give a shout out to “that dirty word – SOCIALISM,” but we can connect the dots from Obamacare to the “single-payer or the Canadian” way by ourselves. From the glories of the Canadian way (as Obama sees them) to “SOCIALISM” only requires a little generalization from a big example.
Perhaps in the Bulworth mode Obama would tell us what fools we were to believe his fake opposition to gay marriage, or his fake support for Israel. He would tell us friendship with Bill Ayers and his support for late term abortion/infanticide.
He would explain the virtues of the Muslim Brotherhood. He would unburden himself of the shame he felt having to disown Jeremiah Wright. He would tell us at long last of his profound feelings for the wisdom of Rashid Khalidi!
He would have a few choice words about Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, but he would also express his contempt for the Republican members of the Gang of Eight. He would express his deep gratitude to low information voters and the members of the media who kept them in that condition.
Whatever Obama would have to say in Bulworth mode might come as a slight surprise to low information voters, but for anyone who has been paying attention it would amount to an utterly superfluous postscript. The only thing close to humorous about it is Obama’s conceit that he has concealed his inner light.
Via Stanley Kurtz/NRO.
UPDATE: I had missed James Taranto’s inquiry: “What would Bulworth do?”