Anyone who knows me knows that if Hugh Jackman is in a movie, don’t stand between me and the theater on opening day. This year, he stars in a film that asks more questions than it gives answers that will be released on Election Day or as the promoters say, “Go vote, then go to the movies”. This combines my two greatest obsessions: Politics and Movies. The Front Runner is based on Matt Bai’s book, All The Truth is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, about the week that Gary Hart’s campaign was destroyed by the rumors of an extra marital affair that may or may not have happened in this case (there were others as he seems to have had a zipper problem) but changed political coverage by media seemingly forever. As Hart has said, “You can get awful famous in this country in seven days.”
While I lived through the events, I knew next to nothing about Hart, except for the positions he took and then of course, the scandal that ended the campaign. In a desire to know more I read a few articles and then wondered what he had been up to since. As it turns out, he never really went away and that scandal may have cost us an excellent President. Fortunately, it did not deprive us of a great thinker. He returned to law, acted as an advisor to other politicians, made speeches, and most of all, he wrote:
James Monroe, the 5th President
God and Caesar in America
The Courage of Our Convictions
Restoration of the Republic, The Jeffersonian Ideal
The Fourth Power, A Grand Strategy for the US in the 21st Century
The Shield and the Cloak, The Security of the Commons
Hart is now considered one of the foremost thinkers on national security. On September 4, 2001, exactly one week before the September attacks Hart gave a speech warning that within the next 25 years a terrorist attack would lead to mass deaths in the United States. Hart met with aviation executives in Montreal, Canada, on September 5, 2001, to warn of airborne terrorist attacks. The Montreal Gazette reported the story the following day with a headline, “Thousands Will Die, Ex-Presidential Hopeful Says.” On September 6, 2001, Hart met with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to urge, “You must move more quickly on homeland security. An attack is going to happen.” In a subsequent interview with Salon.com, Hart accused President George W. Bush and other administration officials of ignoring his warnings.
Recently I picked up his most recent (2015) book, Republic of Conscience which is very much in line with Ben Franklin’s, “We’ve given you a Republic if you can keep it.” Hart provides an action plan. In about the clearest words I have read, this man now 81, has written a book that makes you want to highlight something on every page. From the beginning of the Amazon introduction:
Going back as early as 400 BC, the idea of a true republic has been threatened by narrow, special interests taking precedence over the commonwealth. The United States Constitution was drafted to protect against such corruption, but as Gary Hart details in The Republic of Conscience, America is nowhere near the republic it set out to be almost 250 years ago, falling to the very misconduct it hoped to avoid.
Writing well before the 2016 campaign – “Conservatives have mounted a stealth campaign to produce barriers to voting. There is an over-all domination of money, virtually all of it representing one special interest or another. The political media even provide honors for those raising the most money.” I would quote more, but I would be rewriting the whole book. Just go get it.
Hart and his wife Lee (now married for 60 years) were given a private showing of The Front Runner. They both liked it and the questions presented. Over hot chocolate afterwards, Hart asked, “Do I really talk like that?” Lee answered, “Yes dear, just like that.”
Buy the books, go to the movie … Oh and don’t forget to vote.