I'm a huge fan of Errol Morris, and his last film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara was in my opinion the third best film of 2003 while in other ways being by far the most important. Well today, Ben Chappel posted a long discussion with Morris over at Gothamist which is a must-read.
At one point, near the end, Morris says something that particularly struck me: " Someone asked me if I was in a state of depression or despair, and I said, 'absolutely not,' but it is a state of extreme enervation. Of just feeling depleted by it all." Maybe that's the same thing I've been feeling – "depleted." It's been going on for weeks, and I find myself so obsessively watching and reading the news and the various political blogs out there (especially the ones listed on the right). It's like a bad crack addiction that you know is bad for you, but you have to keep going back for more.
If you've never seen The Fog of War, seriously go rent it now. In many ways, I think it's a far more important and relevant film to this election than Fahrenheit 9/11. As I commented when I first saw the Morris film, there is an eerie resemblance between McNamara during his time as Secretary of Defense helping to create the Vietnam War and Donald Rumsfeld now, or at least 18 months ago when the Bush Campaign didn't try to keep a lid on him. The things they each said and the tone with which they said them was nearly identical. Scarier, they physically look similar.
In his Gothamist chat, Morris mentions that he now thinks McNamara was more like Colin Powell than Rumsfeld. He doesn't go into detail, but I'm guessing that's due to McNamara's attempts to actually caution Lyndon Johnson against escalating the conflict and becoming a dissenting voice. It's an interesting perspective. Either way, though, whether or not people want to argue over the similarities between the Vietnam War and the current one in Iraq (and plenty of people will adamantly argue there are no similarities whatsoever), day-by-day we now see that many of the mistakes made 40 years ago in Southeast Asia are identical to those we're making now in Iraq. If only Bush had had the sense of LBJ and not run for his party's nomination; but unlike the democrats in the '60s who were ready to throw the President out, the republicans of '04 have such blinding loyalty that we are really doomed to have not learned from the past.
Meanwhile, in case you were unaware, Morris produced a bunch of Republican switch ads, i.e., voters for Bush in 2000 who are voting for Kerry this year, in collaboration with MoveOn.org. The ads are just like the Apple switch ads he made a few years ago: average people simply talking in front of a blank white background for 30 seconds. They're also quite brilliant and emotionally compelling. You can see all of them online here at errolmorris.com. I know MoveOn paid to run a few of the ads a couple months ago, but apparently they were never utilized as part of a larger campaign, and that's really a shame. In these last days of overly manipulative wolves, eagles and ostriches coupled with spin from both sides and flat out lies from one, having some real American voters just talking about their own opinions and experiences might be refreshing. Go watch them yourself, and if by chance you have any pull with some left-leaning 527 in a swing state, maybe these ads could be of some last minute help so that the "depleted" feeling I, and I'm sure many others, share with Morris does not, in fact, transform into one of "depression or despair."
Six days left ….