The American President
Essentially, this film is a romantic comedy - a great one - and one of the reasons it's great is that is has a secondary story that keeps it from getting bogged down in the mush. Politics makes for a great distraction, and shows us how hard and soul-destroying it can be to get legislation through Congress (which we all learned in a very real way just this week). Politics is entwined with the romance plot, too, as the President's private life is very much the focus of attention for the media, his staff, and his political rivals (especially that nasty Bob Rumson).
I'm intrigued by the idea of electing a President that doesn't have the traditional family background. We're told that Shepard's wife died before the election, so the opposition didn't feel they could launch a character attack on him. As much as we might like elections to be about the issues - especially when the issues are literally life and death, like they
A lot of people are fond of Shepard's final speech in the press room, and of course it's been brought up in the course of discussing a couple of Obama's recent speeches, because they have a couple of cadences in common - even if they're not quotes (which they absolutely are not). But I'm rather partial to the exchange between Shepard and his speechwriter (played by Michael J. Fox) about leadership and America's thirst for it. Video below, and transcript below that, in case you can't see it for some reason.
Lewis: You have a deeper love of this country than any man I've ever known. And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism.
President: Look, if the people want to listen to--
Lewis: They don't have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.
President: Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.
Please, please, America - know this difference this November.