A behind-the-scenes documentary about the Clinton for President campaign, focusing on the adventures of spin doctors James Carville and George Stephanopoulos. Bill Clinton himself is almost never seen. Written by
Tim Horrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There's a simple doctrine: outside of a person's love, the most sacred thing that they can give is their labor. And somehow or another along the way, we tend to forget that. Labor is a very precious thing that you have. Anytime that you can combine labor with love, you've made a good merger. I think that we're gonna win tomorrow, and I think the governor's going to fulfill his promise and change America. And I think many of you are going to go on and help him. I'm a political professional, ...
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The War Room does a good job of extolling the skills of James Carville and George Stephanopolous. Clearly, their work had much to do with Clinton's victory. A little known fact about the film is that the actual campaign manager, David Wilhelm, refused to participate in it. He didn't like the idea of a camera crew roaming the headquarters and recording conversations that he felt should have been private. Clinton overruled him, of course. As a result, the documentary skews history a bit. The nuts and bolts of running a campaign are ignored while the craft of spin doctoring is glorified. In a visual medium, that's not altogether surprising, and it may even have been unavoidable. But the misrepresentation -- or rather, the selective representation -- has had the unintended consequence of contributing to public cynicism about political campaigns, which now appear to be all about the spin, the framing -- the very things that make voters feel like they're being manipulated. Perhaps a stronger emphasis on the heavy lifting of door-to-door canvassing, phone banking, meetings with interest groups, outreach to local officials, event set-up, and the like, would have given a more complete picture. Then again, those aren't exactly telegenic activities, and documentary filmmakers may have been hard-pressed to incorporate them even if Wilhelm had cooperated. But the troublesome implications remain, and are worth considering.
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