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January 26th, 2009

This afternoon Sarah and I took in a matinée at the local two screen cineplex, finally seeing Frost/Nixon. If you are a fan of political biographies, I highly recommend it. The movie centers around a series of interviews between David Frost, a British talk show personality, and Richard M. Nixon, the 37th President of the United States.

Two things really struck me about the movie…

First, what would it take for a modern day politician to agree to a series of interviews on such a broad range of subjects with no editorial control? Where are the interviews with Roland Regan, George H. W. Bush, or Bill Clinton? Sure, they have memoirs — tightly controller spin jobs designed to white-wash the record for the sake of legacy — but where is the inquisitor? Who forces our political leaders to see beyond their own self-image and face the facts of their administration? Say what you will about Richard Nixon, but it took guts to agree to that interview, and it showed a nature of his character you don’t often see.

Second, I think my young age takes me out of the target demo for this movie. Viewers are supposed to be rooting against Nixon, or at least rooting for his eventual admission… which is not to saw I wasn’t. But I found I was doing it more out of a desire for a NASCAR crash than for some sort of political reckoning. Perhaps if I were of the Watergate generation, I would feel an attachment… but Nixon was so long ago for me that the movie could have just as easily been about Ulysses S. Grant. Which begs the question: what will future generations think of our rage towards the Bush Administration?

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