The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Dennis Quaid? Aaron Eckhart? Nah. This Part Was Meant for James Spader.


Two excerpts from this morning’s more-lengthy-than-usual Morning Jolt, which also covers the continuing brouhaha surrounding Michael Steele and recent polling about the Tea Party.

He Knows Dr. Strangelove Wasn’t a Documentary, Right?

The bar for the United States using nuclear weapons just got a little higher, but it was already pretty darn high. I’m more worried about the other guys’ bars: “For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.”

I hope any shift in our nuclear posture ends up being irrelevant; no atomic or nuclear weapons have been used in war since 1945, and hopefully we’ll keep that streak going in perpetuity. But like they say in those investment commercials, past performance does not guarantee future success. A few years ago, we found out Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist was practically selling do-it-yourself kits on E-Bay; today there’s a guy who keeps rambling about green auras who’s hell-bent on getting a nuke, and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 12th imam. A lot of our friends on the left reflexively insist that Mahmound Ahmadinejad isn’t really in charge, but Iran’s political structure seems more complexly interwoven than the local rugs. Does anyone feel absolutely, 110 percent confident that if Iran built a nuclear weapon that they would never use it as an offensive weapon? Doesn’t that feel like betting the house on Tiger Woods’ future fidelity? One night Mahmoud has a weird dream, suddenly he’s building a mountain out of his rice like Richard Dreyfuss did with his mashed potatoes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and later that night he starts calling for the rockets to get fired up. I don’t want sunny optimism and hoping for the best in my nuclear/chem/bio deterrent policy. Who’s running our nuclear program these days, Pollyanna?

And a note from the closing thought, since I’m wondering if readers agree . . .

ADDENDA: A movie based on Andrew Young’s tell-all book, detailing how he helped John Edwards cover up his mistress and daughter? I suppose that movie could be entertaining, if the makers were willing to pull no punches and if they knew what they wanted to say. Joe Klein’s Primary Colors has the Bill Clinton stand-in committing statutory rape with one of his best friend’s daughters, and has the Hillary stand-in solely concerned with the political fallout. Klein probably meant the whole thing as a love letter to leaders who accept no limits or some nonsense, but unwittingly showcased the narcissism, raw hunger for power, callousness and casual cruelty that seemed to define the 1990s-era Clintons. (Looking back, how did John Travolta not get an Oscar and/or Arkancided? His Jack Stanton mannerisms cut deeper than even Phil Hartman’s impression.)

The Edwards/Hunter scandal is more than a year old, and to this day, I still want to walk up to Edwards supporters and cheerfully exclaim, “boy, you really picked a colossal @$#%^, didn’t you? And you were completely convinced that this pathological liar was a good husband and father. Hey, how’s about you never cast a ballot again and we’ll call it even, huh?” If the moviemakers had the guts to tell the audience that all the big speeches, all the showy photo ops in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, all the showy fuming at all the right causes and all the teary sit-down interviews holding hands with the wife mean absolutely nothing, and are meaningless for evaluating the character of a man who aims to be president, then it will be worthwhile. Then again, it might hit a little too close to some nerves . . . 

And as I suggested in the headline, nobody plays self-destructive sexual obsessions and false charisma that’s oilier than the Exxon Valdez better than James Spader.

Tags: Barack Obama , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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