Friday, November 24, 2006

"Bobby" and Obama

On “The West Wing,” Martin Sheen embodied the fantasy of an idealistic President who gave us respite from the shoddy realities of the network news.

Now, his son Emilio Estevez has made a movie about Robert Kennedy, which has had the bad luck to open at the death of Robert Altman, inviting comparisons with one of the master filmmakers of all time.

But what is striking in reviews of “Bobby” is that, whatever its merits, it has evoked a longing for the meaning politics once had in American life.

In his New York Times review, A.O. Scott says that in the archival clips, Kennedy talks “with a quiet eloquence that sounds almost outlandish to present-day ears about the problems of poverty, prejudice, pollution and war.”

The Los Angeles Times reviewer notes that “the vitality of Kennedy” reminds us “we’re far removed from an age where politicians embraced issues and positions rather than middle-of-the-road centrism.”

It sounds like a movie that all those who are excited by the emergence of Barack Obama, and the young Senator himself, should see and take to heart.

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