July 16, 2004


Once More Into The Breach
By Fred H. Arm
The basic theme of this documentary, “The Hunting of the President”, is that Bill Clinton was the target of an opportunistic right-wing campaign to dishonor and undermine him. When the so-called conspirators were unable to destroy him through overboard exposure of the “Whitewater” fiasco, they leaped on the alternate scheme involving his sexual escapades beginning while he was governor of Arkansas and in the White House that ultimately resulted in an impeachment trial by the US Senate, which was plainly a disguised attempt to oust Mr. Clinton instead of the traditional coup d’etat.

I must say that although I am sympathetic with Clinton being so maliciously hounded and persecuted; however, he was indeed substantially the philanderer they made him out to be. The facts the film presented have already exhaustively been presented during the impeachment years leaving very little novelty in the film.

As a historical piece, it would offer some insight to future generations who did not experience the public hysteria. Some of the comments by David Brock, the former conservative reporter who first exposed the Paula Jones sexual harassment contentions, demonstrates that most of the media networks of so-called rich conservatives were determined to break Clinton’s back any way they could.
It is almost impossible to determine whether the mainstream conservatives initiated the inquisition into Clinton’s financial and sexual affairs or whether they were the result of opportunistic right-wing wacko investigators who presented their evidence to the conservative media. Under either theory, the mainstream snapped it up and ran with it. The rabid conservative elements seem to be constantly on the lookout for any tidbit of information that would tend to discredit or otherwise harm any of their imagined liberal protagonists.
Susan McDougal is presented as an obscure woman who was sent to prison for contempt of court because she would not cooperate with the Starr investigation, suggesting that she knew more than she let on. At the guest screening itself, Ms McDougal in person came across as sincere and unassuming, willing to tell all to a hungry liberal audience who viewed the film at the Roxy in the Mission District of San Francisco. She still professes her original stance that special prosecutor Kenneth Starr had offered her immunity or some sort of leniency if she would lie for them in their case against the Clintons. She refused then and continues to rebuff any assertion that Clinton had done something wrong. Accordingly, Starr had her cited and imprisoned for contempt of court. What she did not tell us was that she was suddenly moved to Sybil Brand Institute, Los Angeles County's jail for women, to face California criminal allegations that she stole money while working for the famous conductor, Zuben Mehta, and his wife in Los Angeles. She was subsequently acquitted with the assistance of celebrated criminal attorney, Mark Geragos.
Some of the tales she spun at the theater about the cruelty and torture she observed and personally endured are highly suspect, particularly when she was an inmate at Sybil Brand county jail in Los Angeles. I cannot imagine imparting any veracity to some of her claims since Los Angeles has more hungry attorneys just chomping at the bit to sue the jail for much less heinous malfeasance on the part of the jailors than the sweet Ms McDougal related to us. It is also inconsistent and surprising for someone to relate such extraordinary tales of horror without more cynicism or bitterness.
The film itself has a clear message that some unsavory and powerful right-wing Americans had the power and the desire to almost “take over the throne” so to speak. For the conservatives, they needed a Clinton to hate since they no longer had the Communists to rant at. However, the film falls short in presenting facts showing why it was so easy for the right to sway the country against Clinton. The allegations concerning Monica Lewinsky were hardly touched upon, nor was the impeachment process adequately presented. Clearly, there were many reasons the people lost faith in Clinton. So, when he actually did tell the truth, we could not or would not really believe him. Thus, when it began to become obvious that Bill was actually the victim, how could the people consider him to be an innocent one?

Directed by well-known Clinton friend Harry Thomason and Nickolas Perry, the film has some unique effects such as using old film clips from classic black & white films to illuminate a point. Together with “Fahrenheit 9/11”, this picture show should wake up some of those complacent people who think “the king can do no wrong”. Otherwise, the film mainly preaches to the “liberal choir” who most likely will make up the lion’s share of the audience. As for the conservative audiences, I doubt that they will give it much credence. I found the movie itself a bit tedious and somewhat redundant, thus aiding my sporadic cat-napping. Otherwise, it had an important message to deliver, albeit in a container that could have been better conceived.

Posted by fredarm at July 16, 2004 04:55 PM
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