The Corner

American Hustle Indeed

The recent film American Hustle (capsule review: meh), which revolves around the late-1970s Abscam scandal, is about as apolitical as a movie about government corruption can be. No surprise there, since almost all the elected officials convicted in Abscam were Democrats. But there’s one point early on where Amy Adams, remarking on the era’s high interest rates, says: “[Gosh darn] Jimmy Carter. [Gosh darn] Nixon, really, with the war and the deficit and all that [stuff].”

Now, leaving aside the tenuous economic relationship between debt, spending, and interest rates, and the limited degree to which any president can fix the economy in the short term, Adams’s character, who might be described as sharp but unlearned, should have known that Nixon ended the war that LBJ began, that Nixon’s deficits were unexceptional, and that LBJ passed the Great Society programs that were (and still are) getting more expensive by the year. So why not “[Gosh darn] Johnson” instead? Because, of course, this is Hollywood, where ideology always trumps accuracy.