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Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Day-Lewis’

FILM | Att försöka utläsa sina egna favoritbudskap i populära filmer är alltid lockande. Speciellt om man har en politisk agenda.

Steven Spielberg Lincoln - poster

I USA har mycket handlat om Steven Spielbergs film Lincoln. I Sverige är det Kristina Lindström och Maud Nycanders dokumentär om Palme som fått politiska redaktörer och kritiker att vässa pennorna.

De översvallande recensionerna för filmerna gör det intressant att se vilka godbitar skribenterna har plockat fram för att kunna användas i den dagaktuella debatten.

Karin Petersson i Aftonbladet citerade t.ex. Anna Lindh:

Olof Palme visade att politiken ska vägledas av idéer, moral och känsla. Att politik är så mycket mer än teknik och administration.

Peter Akinder i Östra Småland hade ett liknande nostalgiskt resonemang (även om han inte vill kännas vid att han är just nostalgisk):

[D]et skulle inte skada om svensk politik mera präglades av den attityd och ideologiska spänst som [Olof Palme] representerade, för att skapa engagemang kring politiken som demokratins kraft att förändra. 

Frank Rich, tidskriften New York, har tittat lite på hur det politiska etablissemanget i Washington valde att tolka budskapet i Lincoln. Och i bara farten placera sig själva bland änglarna.

The rousing reception that has greeted Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln in Establishment Washington—an enclave not generally known for its cinema connoisseurship—tells another story, about the state of play of domestic politics in the Obama years. Tony Kushner’s screenplay and Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance depict a president who, during the movie’s monthlong time frame of January 1865, is unyielding in his zeal to win ratification of the constitutional amendment outlawing slavery. Yet the Washington punditocracy’s praise distorts Lincoln, selling short the movie and its hero to draw another moral entirely: The only way good can happen in the nation’s capital is if you strike a bipartisan compromise. This supercilious veneration of bipartisanship is the Beltway Kool-Aid that Obama drank during his first term, much to his own grief, given that the Party of No was abstaining from it altogether. Those in Washington who are now repackaging it under the brand of Lincoln are the same claque that tirelessly preaches that the ­after-hours nightcaps shared by Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, or commissions like Simpson-Bowles, are the paradigms for getting things done.

The Beltway cheerleading for Lincoln as a parable of bipartisanship makes much of the fact that Obama screened it at the White House for a small invited group of congressional leaders.

[…]

The film demonstrates “the nobility of politics” (in David Brooks’s phrase) by depicting a president who would strike any bargain he could, however ugly, to snare the votes he needed to free the slaves. Lincoln’s political dealmaking with a deadlocked, lame-duck House just after his reelection is, ipso facto, the Ur-text of Obama’s push to make a deal with Congress in the postelection “fiscal cliff” standoff of 2012.

Leaving aside the moral obtuseness of equating the imperative of abolishing slavery in the nineteenth century with reducing budget deficits in our own, there are other fallacies in this supposed historical parallel. If any of today’s apostles of bipartisan compromise had bothered to read the five pages of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals that are the springboard for Kushner’s screenplay, they would have learned that Lincoln not for one second compromised his stand on the abolition of slavery while rounding up congressional votes for the Thirteenth Amendment. (He doesn’t in the film either.) Lincoln’s compromises were not of principle but of process. He secured votes with the mercenary favors catalogued by Goodwin—“plum assignments, pardons, campaign contributions, and government jobs for relatives and friends of faithful members.” Few, if any, of these bargaining chips are available to Obama or any modern president who doesn’t want to risk impeachment.

[…]

The one significant ideological compromise in the movie is that made by the Radical Republican congressman Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), who tables his insistence on full equality for African-Americans to hasten the slavery-ending amendment’s passage.

There are no figures like Stevens willing to cut deals in the radical GOP House caucus of today. The good news about the newly rebooted Obama, as seen both in his tough dealings with the lame-duck Congress and his second inaugural address, is that he recognizes this reality. He at last seems to have learned his lesson about the futility of trying to broker a serious compromise with his current Republican adversaries. He held to his stated principles in both the “fiscal cliff” and debt-ceiling fights, and both times the GOP backed down. Nor is he deluding himself that his congressional opponents might embrace flexibility and compromise if they saw ­Lincoln—not least because he couldn’t even corral them to see the movie in his presence. The president did invite Mitch ­McConnell and John Boehner to his White House screening, and both said no.

Läs mer: Abraham Lincolns betydelse för Barack Obama.

Bild: Den amerikanska affischen till filmen Lincoln.

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HISTORIA | Steven Spielbergs film om Abraham Lincoln är baserad på Doris Kearns Goodwins Team of Rivals från 2005.

1959 1c Abraham Lincoln Stamp Pair of Joined Mint

Inför valet 2008 bad Katie Couric, på CBS News, presidentkandidaterna nämna en favotitbok. Obama valde Goodwins bok.

If you were elected president, what is the one book other than the bible you would think is essential to have along?

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book ”Team of Rivals.” It was a biography of Lincoln. And she talks about Lincoln’s capacity to bring opponents of his and people who have run against him in his cabinet. And he was confident enough to be willing to have these dissenting voices and confident enough to listen to the American people and push them outside of their comfort zone. And I think that part of what I want to do as president is push Americans a little bit outside of their comfort zone. It’s a remarkable study in leadership.

Och när Time intervjuade Obama om hans agenda inför andra mandatperioden kom man återigen in på frågan om Lincolns betydelse.

I wanted to ask you, Mr. President, about the film Lincoln. We know that you gathered a group to see it here. And for me watching that movie, it was as if I had spent three hours with Lincoln. And I wondered how — it was a very emotional experience. And I wondered how you felt watching that movie. What was it like for you to spend that time with Lincoln?

[…]

I do think that there are lessons to be drawn. Part of what Lincoln teaches us is that to pursue the highest ideals and a deeply moral cause requires you also engage and get your hands dirty. And there are trade-offs and there are compromises. And what made him such a remarkable individual, as well as a remarkable President, was his capacity to balance the idea that there are some eternal truths with the fact that we live in the here and now, and the here and now is messy and difficult. And anything we do is going to be somewhat imperfect. And so what we try to do is just tack in the right direction.

And you do understand that as President of the United States, the amount of power you have is overstated in some ways, but what you do have the capacity to do is to set a direction. And you recognize you’re not going to arrive with — you’ll never arrive at that promised land, and whatever seeds you plant now may bear fruit many years later.

So being able to project across a very long timeline while still being focused on the immediate tug and pull of politics I think is a useful lesson, and an accurate portrayal of how I think about my work day to day.

[…]

I’ve heard talk of you keeping a diary but never heard you talk about it. Are you keeping a diary?

[…] 

Well, I don’t have as much time to write as I used to, but in my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are; that there’s — that the process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions.

And going back to Lincoln, probably part of the reason he’s my favorite President is he’s also one of the best writers in American history. But you see the power of his writing evolve and shape what his policies are. He has to work through things. How does he think about slavery? How does he think about union? How does hethink about the Constitution? How does he think about the role of popular opinion? All these things are just completely formed at the start of his political career.

The Lincoln who is a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois isn’t the same Lincoln as the one who addresses Gettysburg. For that matter, the Lincoln who’s elected President is not the same as the Lincoln who delivers the second inaugural. They’re different people. And part of it has to do with his ability to filter these extraordinary debates and these conflicting forces into some coherent vision of what America is and should be. I’m also not as good a writer as him — (laughter) — to state the obvious.

Bild: Amerikanskt frimärke från 1959.

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Övrigt: Steven Spielbergs ”Lincoln” har premiär i Sverige den 25 januari 2013.

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