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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Harold and Kumar really suck

Living in Paris these past 20 years has clearly made me out of touch, despite spending the past four months in Boston and thinking that I had become culturally readapted. I went to see "Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay" yesterday thinking that with a title like that it was sure to be a sharp satire on the "war against terror" and the Bush administration's trashing of the Bill of Rights. I am sure that the people who made this film thought that was what they were doing, but instead it turned out to be a sexist (all the time), racist (some of the time), juvenile (all the time) and basically gross pandering to the worst tendencies in the (mostly) young people who shared the cinema with me. Only in America, with its strong cultural tendency to consider that sex is dirty, could such a film--which treats sex as if it is dirty--be a success.

This might sound a bit old-fashioned, but it is sad to see that being stupid is still considered cool in America. In a comment in my previous post about John McCain, conservative blogger pal GM Roper asked which of the three current presidential candidates I was happy with. I told him I was happiest with Barack Obama, because he would be most likely to bring out the best rather than the worst in the American people. Is it too much to hope for that being smart might one day be cool?

Update: Required reading today on why Obama is on top (and why he is likely to beat McCain) is Frank Rich's column in the New York Times, "Party Like It's 2008." Rich points out how much 8 years of George W. Bush, plus the demographic and generational changes in the American population, have made the kind of old-style Clinton and Karl Rove politics outdated:

"Mr. Obama hardly created this moment, with its potent brew of Bush loathing and sweeping generational change. He simply had the vision to tap into it. Running in 2008 rather than waiting four more years was the single smartest political decision he’s made (and, yes, he’s made dumb ones too). The second smartest was to understand and emphasize that subterranean, nearly universal anticipation of change rather than settle for the narrower band of partisan, dyspeptic Bush-bashing. We don’t know yet if he’s the man who can make the moment — and won’t know unless he gets to the White House — but there’s no question that the moment has helped make the man."

And, continuing in the same wise vein, Rich says:

"Good as this demographic shift is for a Democratic ticket led by Mr. Obama, it’s even better news that so many pundits and Republicans bitterly cling to the delusion that the Karl Rove playbook of Swift-boating and race-baiting can work as it did four and eight years ago. You can’t surf to a right-wing blog or Fox News without someone beating up on Mr. Wright or the other predictable conservative piñata, Michelle Obama.

"This may help rally the anti-Obama vote. But that contingent will be more than offset in November by mobilized young voters, blacks and women, among them many Clinton-supporting Democrats (and independents and Republicans) unlikely to entertain a G.O.P. candidate with a perfect record of voting against abortion rights. Even a safe Republican Congressional seat in Louisiana fell to a Democrat last weekend, despite a campaign by his opponent that invoked Mr. Obama as a bogeyman.

"A few conservatives do realize the game has changed. George Will wrote last week that Mr. Obama was Reaganesque in the stylistic sense that “his manner lulls his adversaries into underestimating his sheer toughness — the tempered steel beneath the sleek suits.” John and Cindy McCain get it too, which is why both last week made a point (he on “The Daily Show,” she on “Today”) of condemning negative campaigning. But even if Mr. McCain keeps his word and stops trying to portray Mr. Obama as the man from Hamas, he can’t disown the Limbaugh axis of right-wing race-mongering. That’s what’s left of his party’s base."

Rich's point about McCain's record on abortion rights is particularly pertinent, especially for anyone who thinks that any significant percentage of the millions of women who supported Hillary Clinton are now going to vote for McCain. And his column should serve as a warning to any campaign strategists who might advise that Obama compromise on his liberal politics to get elected. To me, it's bad enough that he is a liberal and not a committed leftwinger--the American people are clearly ready for some radical solutions to their problems.

3 comments:

Anne Gilbert said...

I think of Obama as a kind of catalyst that will be a focus for the kind of change that needs to happen, if this country is to move forward at all. This, of course, assumes his nomination, and eventual election. And I have no doubt at all, that McCaiin and the Republican Party will pull out all stops, in order to prevent this from happening. But change will be inevitable, and the longer it is denied, the worse the wrenching will be, when it eventually does happen.
Anne G

Maria said...

Nice posting

men's trousers said...

Why it is suck? I really don get your point can you explain.