Interesting subject matter, but a mediocre presentation
Before seeing 'Bush's Brain', directed by Joseph Mealey and Michael Shoob, and based on the book of the same title written by James C. Moore and Wayne Slater, I had heard the name Karl Rove, but never knew what his role in the Bush Administration was. After seeing 'Bush's Brain', I have a good idea of who he is and how he operates, which I think was just one of the objectives of the filmmakers.
'Bush's Brain' examines the rise of Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser and the head of his presidential campaign. Before working for George W., he successfully engineered the campaign of several Texas politicians, leading up to, of course, George W. Bush's election as governor. The film briefly deals with his rise to prominence, and then spends most of its time focusing on three separate campaigns that Rove worked on. Rove is portrayed as an unscrupulous man who will stop at nothing to get his candidate elected; generally a trait that you would want in a campaign director, except through eye-witness accounts and interviews with former colleagues, we learn that this does not mean only engaging in legal or moral activities. We learn of how he orchestrated 'whisper campaigns' (most notably during John McCain's 2000 bid for the Republican nomination, something that really made me scratch my head, considering McCain's seeming undying devotion to Bush now) among other tactics for all of his successful clients.
Personal politics aside, when I went to see this film I was expecting more of a Democratic lean, just based on the title alone. The film did a good job providing seemingly factual information throughout, however the last segment of the film focuses on a family who tragically lost their son in Iraq. After making the case that Rove and Bush orchestrated the recent war, Mealey and Shoob throw in this segment for obvious emotional impact. It did, of course, but it was unnecessary and preachy. I feel that they did a good job making their case already. The filmmakers also insisted on telling us who each interviewee was throughout the film, so that was also a minor distraction.
'Bush's Brain' was an interesting documentary and certainly provided a lot of food for thought, but it wasn't as effective as it could have been. It is probably important viewing, mainly for the sake of the information provided, however. 5/10
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