Thursday, August 12, 2004

Country to President Bush - You're going the wrong way

Mulling over my opening posts yesterday brought to mind two relevant road movie scenes that are analagous to the way the Bush Administration is leading the country (and much funnier than the one I imagined). One is a classic in its genre and I'm disappointed that I didn't remember it sooner.

In Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, a truly underappreciated film blending slapstick comedy perfectly with genuine human moments - I had forgotten how much I loved this film until the scene below got me thinking about it again. ... (I've tried to find some clips - I couldn't find one of the whole scene but here's it is cobbled together - I HIGHLY recommend renting the video to see the whole sequence in it's entirety)

The scene starts after Neal (Steve Martin) and Del (John Candy) finally get a rental car. They're driving at night and Del attempts to take off his jacket while driving, swerving off the road and nearly killing them. They recover to get back on the road with no idea that they are now driving on the wrong side of the road. As they're driving, a couple driving on the correct side of the road try to warn them.

(Real Video Clip)

After they start driving, they see a couple driving trying to signal to them.

Here's the audio clip:

(RealPlayer) (Wav format)

NEAL: "He wants something."
DEL: "Oh, he's probably drunk."
DRIVER: [shouting] "You're going the wrong way."
NEAL: "What."
DRIVER: [shouting] "You're going the wrong way."
NEAL: "He says were going the wrong way."
DEL: "Oh, he's drunk. How would he know where we're going?"
NEAL: "Yeah, how would he know? Thank you. Thanks a lot. Terrific."
DEL: "Thank you. [honks car horn] [laughs, motioning that other driver has been drinking] What a moron."

The clip continues with the couple trying again to warn them. Realization suddenly dawns for Neal and he turns to face two semis bearing down on them.

RealVideo clip

The analogy to the current state of affairs works reasonably well if you place President Bush in the role of the affable but somewhat daft Del, pragmatic adult or grownup Republicans (as Brad DeLong has taken to calling them) as the buttoned-down Neal, the car as the country, and the people in the other car has progressives/liberals/other critics of this administration's agenda and their execution of that agenda, both of which have been sorely lacking.

To wit, the President starting from an initial ill-advised action (or two or three) created some pretty substantial fiscal and international chaos and ended up leading the country in the wrong direction. People pointing this out have been ridiculed (called much worse things than drunk) and marginalized as outside the car (in reality, in the back seat right along with the characters). The car has continued forward with Neal largely oblivious about the stage that has been set. I think we're at the point were the grown-up conservatives have turned to see where we are actually headed and noticed the semis coming for our car. The hope, of course, is that the President manages to negotiate us between the two semis as well as Del did, only ripping off the doors and the rear-view mirrors (apt parallel there) rather than driving us into one or both of them head-on before we can get back on the right track.

The problem with the analogy of course is that we need a couple of additional characters - one to emphatically reassure Del/the President and Neal/the people that this is the right way, the way everyone really wants to go and to argue to ignore the upcoming semis. And another one to strongly second the first characters opinion and bad mouth the people in the other car/back seat before the crash and then, after the car has been trashed in the near semi-crash, to explain that this is what we were hoping for all along and that if we had listened to the people in the other car/back seat, we would have blown the car to smithereens.

I think at this point, the polls (e.g., see Q7 of this recent poll) are coming around to the backseat position and maybe, just maybe, Neal might realize what's going on in time so that we might actually get the car on to one of those no-authorized vehicles u-turns.

Let's hope.

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