Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I get flack for mixing politics with my TV shit. But as I've said before, art is and always has been a reflection of the sociopolitical climate. And SOA is a political show.

Joe Klein's article in Time sums it up.

Bush's Last Days: The Lamest Duck

We have "only one President at a time," Barack Obama said in his debut press conference as President-elect. Normally, that would be a safe assumption - but we're learning not to assume anything as the charcoal-dreary economic winter approaches. By mid-November, with the financial crisis growing worse by the day, it had become obvious that one President was no longer enough (at least not the President we had). So, in the days before Thanksgiving, Obama began to move - if not to take charge outright, then at least to preview what things will be like when he does take over in January. He became a more public presence, taking questions from the press three days in a row. He named his economic team. He promised an enormous stimulus package that would somehow create 2.5 million new jobs, and began to maneuver the new Congress toward having the bill ready for him to sign - in a dramatic ceremony, no doubt - as soon as he assumes office.

That we have slightly more than one President for the moment is mostly a consequence of the extraordinary economic times. Even if George WashingtonJohn Adams was planning to do after his Inauguration. And yet this final humiliation seems particularly appropriate for George W. Bush. At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks. (See TIME's best pictures of Barack Obama.) were the incumbent, the markets would want to know what

It is in the nature of mainstream journalism to attempt to be kind to Presidents when they are coming and going but to be fiercely skeptical in between. I've been feeling sorry for Bush lately, a feeling partly induced by recent fictional depictions of the President as an amiable lunkhead in Oliver Stone's W. and in Curtis Sittenfeld's terrific novel American Wife. There was a photo in the New York Times that seemed to sum up his current circumstance: Bush in Peru, dressed in an alpaca poncho, standing alone just after the photo op at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, with various Asian leaders departing the stage, none of them making eye contact with him. Bush has that forlorn what-the-hell-happened? expression on his face, the one that has marked his presidency at difficult times. You never want to see the President of the United States looking like that.

So I've been searching for valedictory encomiums. His position on immigration was admirable and courageous; he was right about the Dubai Ports deal and about free trade in general. He spoke well, in the abstract, about the importance of freedom. He is an impeccable classicist when it comes to baseball. And that just about does it for me. I'd add the bracing moment of Bush with the bullhorn in the ruins of the World Trade Center, but that was neutered in my memory by his ridiculous, preening appearance in a flight suit on the deck of the aircraft carrier beneath the "Mission Accomplished" sign. The flight-suit image is one of the two defining momentsHurricane Katrina. This is a presidency that has wobbled between those two poles - overweening arrogance and paralytic incompetence.(President Bush in the Middle East.) of the Bush failure. The other is the photo of Bush staring out the window of Air Force One, helplessly viewing the destruction wrought by

The latter has held sway these past few months as the economy has crumbled. It is too early to rate the performance of Bush's economic team, but we have more than enough evidence to say, definitively, that at a moment when there was a vast national need for reassurance, the President himself was a cipher. Yes, he's a lame duck with an Antarctic approval rating - but can you imagine Bill Clinton going so gently into the night? There are substantive gestures available to a President that do not involve the use of force or photo ops. For example, Bush could have boosted the public spirit - and the auto industry - by announcing that he was scrapping the entire federal automotive fleet, including the presidential limousine, and replacing it with hybrids made in Detroit. He could have jump-started - and he still could - the Obama plan by releasing funds for a green-jobs program to insulate public buildings. He could start funding the transit projects already approved by Congress.

In the end, though, it will not be the creative paralysis that defines Bush. It will be his intellectual laziness, at home and abroad. Bush never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and regulation that was necessary to make markets work. He never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and equity that was necessary to maintain the strong middle class required for both prosperity and democracy. He never considered the complexities of the cultures he was invading. He never understood that faith, unaccompanied by rigorous skepticism, is a recipe for myopia and foolishness. He is less than President now, and that is appropriate. He was never very much of one.


Kevin Michaels said...

Great article and great read - it clearly defines the Bush presidency for the past 8 years. From what we've seen and read of him, I've often said that Bush would probably be a great guy to sit next to in a bar and pop open a couple of Buds, talking and trading stories. But as the leader of the free world he leaves so much to be desired, and unfortunateoly we're in much worse shape now than when he took office (due to some things that aren't his fault and many that are). I think Joe Klein accurately summarizes the Bush presidency in that last paragraph.

Outsider said...

That Duck is some Chickenshit Poultry.
In fact he is one Turkey who doesn't deserve a
Reprieve.....behind Sarah Palin's photo op or
on trial for High Crimes

I'm not a pheasant plucker I'm a pheasant plucker's
Mate....I'm only plucking pheasants cause the
pheasant plucker's late....

say that 4 times quickly then give Bush the Bird

Happy Thanksgiving All!

enomali said...

Very well spoken, glad to hear the author of one of my favorite shows feels the same as I do. BTW, the last episode was epic, and thank you gor SOA. I'm in the media industry (Advertising Producer) and my father was an Angel so we both love the show, rightfully edgy and intelligently written.

Thanks again.

//MDavid //

Anton said...

It may be off topic, because its not political, but there is 15 min. of S.O.A. left, I feel like I have been hit by a train, there is an amazing feeling of peace that has come over me, every advertisment that pops up on the screen taunts me, my eyes flash to the clock on the cable box and back to the screen all my screaming for the adds to end just for one more second of the show,

a beautiful shot of a grave yard comes up, after yet another advert for X-men 2, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for this show, thank you for creating something so moving, something that can draw such an emotional reaction from me.

thank you.

Grizzly Kaz said...

That last line says it all.

Thank you for sharing this Kurt.

RobLyon said...

Not at all surprised that your political views echo mine as well. Your contributions to both The Shield and SoA have made TV watchable for me again after a long period of exasperation with the formulaic predicability of so many recent offerings.

I'm sure you're getting plenty of props from peeps whose opinions matter more than mine in your industry, but mine is, I believe, a unique perspective - a dancer with the New York City Ballet for 15 years - retired and went back to school for a degree in Literature and Writing from Columbia University, now a producer for one of the major 24-hour cable news outlets.

My girlfriend was no doubt tired of having me whisper (all-too-often accurate) predictions the next scene in any number of television series or movies. Then you come along and blow the whole conventional aspect of script-writing/producing right out of the water, and I simply can't get enough.

The series finale of The Shield and tonight's season finale of SoA had me squirming and jumping up and down on the couch - I'm sure the GF thought I was nuts - but in my humble opinion you have single-handedly turned television scriptwriting on its head. I read a lot of posts re: SoA from people in the MC world who affirm that you've provided grand insight into the world. I'm a sorta-biker (transportation only, not the lifestyle to any degree), but I am a writer, and I respect, honor, and aspire to the direction in which influences such as you, Mr. Sutter, are moving the field.

Again, as above, I'm sure you're hearing the same thing from more important individuals in your field, but if the feelings and opinions of an educated, discriminating American such as myself mean anything, please accept my whole-hearted gratitude for the time and effort you (and the FX network) have put into bringing such new and exciting entertainment fare to television audiences here in the U.S.

I eagerly...EAGERLY await your foray into filmaking. Please keep us up-to-date on your efforts along that line.

irish said...

Mr.NJ, can you really praise one politician over another. Do you know your own state politics. I live in Marlton, NJ. Can you really espouse one party of greatness to another? I suggest you take a read of a new book written by 2 newspaper folks. "The Soprano State" about the garden state. Pay close attention to McGreevey and how it was actually revealed and who he hired as NJ homeland security. Shocking. It will describe just how corrupt the great B.O's party truly is and why we have the highest property taxes in the country all while again having Camden City named the 2nd worst crime in the country. This city is less than 20 miles from my home. Yeah, thanks just what I need building more schools. Just take a look how much we pay. Find out about the 31 ABBOTT Districts, and how Camden City is one of them and how people in my town pay for their schools 24k per student and pay for our own at 10k per student. Yet, you would think we would have Rhodes Scholars instead of Murders,Crackheads. Read the book!!!

Bush might not be your idea of a star, but at least he tried to kick some butt. How is it all who flew planes into our buildings and who were all in their gang AlQueda, did no country take responsibility for this gang? I do believe they were all MUSLIM and from all of the opec middle east. We don't allow our gangs, HA, Pagans, Breed, to fly planes into the Saudi's, so why can't their countries control their gang population?

Iraq, is not part of OPEC. I have pictures of ol Saddam shaking hands with Rummy years ago. He renigged on the deal and put a pipeline right under through Turkey and into Russia. It is called a human race, it's either us or them. You are with us or with them.

Patriotism: Benjamin Franklin!!!! Read a great book by, Yale History Emeritus:Edmund Morgan. He is the first group of American Outlaws. The liberty boys. And I am proud to say I am a descendant of his colleagues and signers of both the DEC. & CON. Charles Carroll, Daniel Carroll.

Franklin said: We must stick together or hang seperately. When all happened to us on 911 you really didn't hear them come out and round up any of their own now did you? Have they given us O.B., yet if a president (ex.Barger) blew up a Saudi palace, would our government have allowed this and how fast would we have turned him over. See how our patriotism has eroded? And again more recently, we have had 9 white cops killed in Philadelphia in less than 2 years. 8 out of the 9 were killed by black men. Had this been the other way round Sharpton and Jackson would have pounded the city streets marching. They also stick together. People have forgot about our Franklin and how he made us and we have forgot we are AMERICANS!!!

I do enjoy SAMCRO, I have noticed a flag of our Besty in the last few epis. Thank you and keep up the great work. John is my favorite apostle, I like the story of the wedding in Canaan. Jesus’s first of making more wine. What a party guy. John was the name of the first Archbishop of the Colonies, he was a relative of the Carrolls from the Sons of Liberty. We have the bible of John Carroll. The Carrolls are the only Catholic signers of our country. The revelator is our new theme song.
Ol skool gal

Christa said...

I just have to tell you that SOA is the best show in a long time I've seen. It's well written, great characters and just a wonderful show. katey has outdone herself on this show, her acting is superb. can't wait for season2 to start.

Justin said...

When I first read Klein's article, I shuddered. It was a Pavlovian thing I guess, and I always get it when President Bush is mentioned - or taken to task.

I'm not bothered by the criticism really, I'm just worried about the damage. The damage done to the office of the President of the United States. I'm too young to have fully enjoyed the insanity of the Nixon presidency, but being a HST fan I got to enjoy his visceral love/hate relationship that he had with him. And, in a sense, I could equate President Bush as our own, personal Richard. M. Nixon.

The thing that gets me about the Bush presidency is the damage he's done. Not to the country, because that has been well documented. But rather the damage he has done to the institution of the presidency - and just how much work President Elect Obama is inhereting.

The office recovered after President's Nixon and Carter. I guess I wonder how it will recover now, and how much of Mr. Obama's presidency will be spent cleaning up after his predecessor.

Justin said...

During a ninja-like visit to Iraq, President Bush was assailed by a Iraqi journalist when dude took off his shoe and threw it at POTUS.

Then proceeded to take off his other shoe, and then throw it at the President.

Currently, the journalist is in jail for throwing footwear at a head of state. His editor is calling for his release and for ALL journalists to stand in solidarity behind our misunderstood brother.

Fuck. That. Sorry brother, you take off your shoes and throw them at a guy protected by the best bullet-catchers in the bussiness, you are on your own.

skratch said...

sorry, i just don't agree with your characterizations of Pres. Bush. you want to talk about low approval ratings? how about congress' 18% compared to Pres. Bush 24%. and congress is largely democratic. where are all the sweeping changes that gang pelosi said they were gonna accomplish in their first 100 hrs? did they even accomplish one? of course he's a lame duck, the dems have been fighting against him since day one. i just say 'be careful what you wish for, you just might get it' i didn't vote for b.o. but i will support him as our cinc, something i wish the dems would have done for Pres. Bush. i just hope that we can survive b.o.'s presidency and come out of this a stronger country for it.

the biggest thing that gets me is why all these hollywood types think that we, the american public, really give a sh!t about what they think of politics. you're an actor, i don't care if you embrace greenpeace or not. and i don't want to hear about it if you do. (this is not directed soley at you, but a lot of your 'peers')

anyway's, my take on the show. its a good watch. i don't take it for a documentary. i know that the outlaw culture is not all like that. there are some good folks in 1% groups, just like there are some bad. hell, you can find some pure d, grade a number 1 a**holes in your local hog chapter (which i am proud to not be a member of). so all in all, i'm glad that you got picked up for a second season. good luck to you.

surrounded by carnivores said...

More on GW: how long will it take to undo all of the signing statements, orders, and final fiats of these last two months? Oh, only 16 days more. Wish he and his crew would retire to making license plates rather than cutting brush in Crawford and scheming & plotting in Wyoming

surrounded by carnivores said...

The bush era is over...thank god!