W (2008)

 

Director:     Oliver Stone. 

Starring:     Sayed Badreya (Saddam Hussein),  Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush),  David Born (Moderator),  Dennis Boutsikaris (Paul Wolfowitz),  Jesse Bradford (Thatcher),  Jonathan Breck (Corndog),  Josh Brolin (George W. Bush),  Bruce Bryant (Odessa Debate Patron),  Ellen Burstyn (Barbara Bush),  Wes Chatham (Jimmy Benedict),  Maria Chen (Military Aid),  Teresa Cheung (Asian Journalist),  Rob Corddry (Ari Fleischer),  James Cromwell (George Herbert Walker Bush),  Jon Michael Davis (Campaign Aide),  Richard Dreyfuss (Dick Cheney),  Charles Fathy (Jacques Chirac),  Chris Freihofer (Evangelical 2),  Terry Gamble (Rove Aid),  Jim Garrity (News Commentator),  Michael Gaston (Gen. Tommy Franks),  Jeff Gibbs (Josiah Pringle),  Scott Glenn (Donald Rumsfeld),  Ioan Gruffudd (Tony Blair),  Jeff Hoferer (McCormick),  Toby Jones (Karl Rove),  Stacy Keach (Earle Hudd),  James Martin Kelly (NSC Official),  Tom Kemp (David Kay),  Allan Kolman (Vladimir Putin),  William Lanier (Resort Waiter),  Brinkley A. Maginnis (Anita Bush),  Madison Mason (Adm. Kelly),  Bryan Massey (Skeeter),  Lee Ann McDade (News Woman),  Bruce McGill (George Tenet),  John Neisler (White House Lawyer),  Randall Newsome (Paul Bremer),  Thandie Newton (Condoleezza Rice),  Gabriela Ostos-Tamez (Reporter #2),  Paul Rae (Kent Hance),  Randal Reeder (Oilrig foreman),  Jason Ritter (Jeb Bush),  Andrew Sensenig (Reporter #1 ),  Marley Shelton (Fran),  Jennifer Sipes (Susie Evans),  Bill Stinchcomb (Secret Service),  Ronan Summers (CIA #3),  Paul T. Taylor (Well Wisher #2),  Taylor Treadwell (Anchor 2),  Jonathon Tripp (News Boom Operator),  Thomas Wallace (John Negroponte),  W. Douglas Waterfield (Richard Armitage),  Drew Waters (Navy Seal),  Brent Weisner (Secret Service Agent),  Jeffrey Wright (Gen. Colin Powell),  Noah Wyle (Don Evans). 

story of the worst president of the United States George Bush II and psychological reasons behind his terrible decisions

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.  Some curses words are in the text.

George W. Bush dreams of being alone on a baseball field in a large stadium. He hears the crowd as it roars.

2002. President George W. Bush has a meeting of his closest advisers. They are kicking around the idea of the "axis of evil". Karl Rove observes that the president has an 80% percent approval rating. Bush wants to make sure that they get a democratic nation in the mid-East from which democracy will spread.

There is, however, a worry about three wars in three countries. But Bush believes that you have to hit your enemies hard and hit them first. He adds that Iran is the mother ship of terrorism. W decides to accept the term "axis of evil" to best summarize reality and then has everyone join him in silent prayer.

Flashback. 1966. At Yale, the Delta Kappa fraternity is hazing its new recruits. They speak of their family fortunes which allows them to rule the world. When they ask George to name the members of the fraternity, he just rattles them off. He impresses the main hazer who says: "We got a working brain." Prescott Bush, Georgeís grandfather, is a senator from Connecticut.

Junior finds himself in jail with a filthy cheer-leading outfit. He talks with his father on the phone and dad tells him that he doesnít want any more phone calls like this.

Junior works on an oil rig, but decides to take an unapproved break. His boss tells him to get back out their with the other men and work. Bush simply quits. We next find him at a bar flirting intensely with a blond woman. He tells her that she will accompany him to New York. She asks him if he is proposing to her. They kiss.

1971. Dad observes that Junior quits all his jobs. And he heard about the blonde Susie who Junior supposedly knocked up. Dad asks him if he thinks heís a Kennedy instead of a Bush. Junior is only a C average student while his brother Jeb graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Dad asks Junior what he might be interested in and the answer is baseball. His father is not impressed. Before Junior leaves dad tells him he will take care of the situation with the young woman. He adds: "You deeply disappoint me."

Back to the present. W has lunch with Vice-President Dick Cheney. He refers to Clinton as a "lard ass" who his mother could out-run. Cheney enunciates his 1% percent doctrine. It there is even a 1% percent chance of a disaster happening, the possible causers of the disaster must be confronted and/or worse. W thinks he is doing as much as he can. After all they monitor a billion calls a day of private citizens and terrorist suspects. But what about Saddam and nuclear weapons? Cheney says there is a 90% percent chance that he has them.

The talk turns to what a decent person would call torture. Cheney speaks of using "maximal effective persuasion" and that includes the use of dogs, isolation, feigning drowning and stress positions. "Nothing fatal" however, says Cheney. Bush adds that there must be no torture. He says that the liberals will probably whine about violations of the Geneva Conventions. As Cheney is leaving, Bush warns him to keep his ego in check. After all, itís Bush who is the president.

W works clearing his farm. He talks with a number of his closest advisers as they walk along one of the ranch roads. General Tommy Franks says they can put 150,000 men into Iraq. Rummy says they only really need 100,000 troops. After all, they are going to hit the Iraqis with "shock and awe" Ė a phrase that seems to delight the mischievous little boy in the president. Colin Powell is the sole voice of reason. He asks the president about an exit strategy. Bush doesnít really answer the question. He talks in glowing terms of democracy and freedom.

Watching a baseball game on television, W almost dies from a pretzel that gets stuck in his throat. He faints and falls. The fall causes the pretzel to be pushed out of his throat and mouth.

Flashback. Junior is driving drunk. His father is angry with him. Junior talks back to his father saying: "Iíve had enough of you, Mr. Perfect!" Juniorís companion says they were just celebrating the sonís entry into Harvard Business School. But Junior says he is not going. Barbara Bush asks her husband about Juniorís success in getting admitted. Her husband just notes that of course he knew about it; who did she think got him into the school?

1977. Bush is playing cards on his birthday with some old friends. He notes that the representatives from the 19th District of Texas has retired and the race is open to a Republican. Bush wants to try his luck. The guys tease him about eventually going to "Bushington", D. C.

Junior meets his future wife Laura at a barbecue. Laura notes that she knew him in the seventh grade because they were in the same class. Laura is a librarian and she asks Junior if he does win the election can he please do something for education.

Laura attends Juniorís debate with Kent Hance, the democrat running for the office. Kent easily wins the debate by pushing harder on the ideas of good Christian and good Texan values. On the drive back, Junior asks for Lauraís opinion and she says his debate performance wasnít good. This makes Junior so mad that he runs the car into the garage door. They argue about the door and then they kiss.

Hance wins the election. Junior is really angry. He vows: "Iíll never be out Texaned or out Christianed again." (Bush is back alone again in the baseball stadium.)

Back to the present. Wís speech writers want to use the information about "yellow cake" in their criticisms of Saddamís attempts to get nuclear weapons. But FBI Director George Tenant can not confirm the intelligence. The speech writers are told to take out the "red meat".

Press Secretary Ari Fleischer comes to complain about that old battle axe reporter Helen Thomas. She asked about the existence of secret plans for regime change in Iraq. W only cares about getting those "assholes" who tried to kill his father.

Flashback. 1986. At a birthday party for Junior, dad calls him up and wishes him a happy birthday. He tells Junior that he is going to run in 1988. And since Jeb canít get away from the situation in Florida, he asks Junior to help him run his campaign. After W returns to the party he tells Laura that they are moving to D.C.

The next morning Junior has a terrible hang-over. Nevertheless, he gets up to run his usual three miles. But as he runs he is beset with such strong pains in his chest that he has to stop running. He drops to the ground holding one of his hands to his chest.

Junior attends a meeting with a small group of men and his pastor. Bush tells pastor Earle that he has a heaviness on him that he cannot shake. The pastor says that he is proud that Junior has been dry now for some six months. He says that Junior has been "born again". God has spoken to him. He adds that Bush is now one of them and need not worry. The two men then pray together.

Junior tries to get his father to embrace being "born again" in order to connect more with his voter base. But dad says he is an old-school Episcopalian and he just doesnít understand all this "born again" stuff. He says it would be "inauthentic". Having this idea rejected, Junior shows him an ad criticizing Governor Dukakis of Massachusetts for being soft on crime. A criminal known as Willie Horton was given 10 weekend passes approved by the governor. Dad says that is strong stuff and Junior replies that they will farm it out to Roger Ailes and he can run with it. Bush Sr. praises his son for his good work.

Karl Rove talks with Junior and says the Texan has "natural talent" as a politician. But his talents need to be harnessed in more effective ways.

Back to the present. Bush and his advisers go over the Iraq situation once again. The estimate is that Saddam will have nuclear weapons by the year 2005. Dick Cheney is the outspoken hawk on this matter while Colin Powell is very doubtful. He asks if Cheney doesnít have any doubts at all. Nope. Powell asks: "No doubt, Dick, no doubt at all?" George Tenant says that Saddam doesnít have nuclear weapons. Donald Rumsfeld criticizes Colin Powell. In actuality, 9/11 was an opportunity for the Republicans. But this time they will get it right. Otherwise their enemies will be back. Karl Rove observes that if they donít act, they wonít be back in 2004.

Powell keeps asking why? He says they are thinking way outside the box and wants to know why. He suggests that they are losing their perspective. Dick Cheney refers to Powell as a Neville Chamberlain appeasing the Islamic fascists just as the Britisher appeased Hitler. Dick pushes the idea that the area around Iraq and Iran contains 80% percent of the worldís oil supply. He suggests that they drain the swamp for them and then the Americans will develop it. Powell asks about the exit strategy again. The answer is that there is not going to be an exit. They are going to stay in the region. Powell comments: "Spoken like a true oil man." Cheney says that control Iran; control Eurasia; control the world. He concludes: "Nobody will fuck with us again." W likes this as he stresses the necessity of having a "us" versus "them" mentality. He says he has always been a gut player and the final decision is his.

Flashback. 1990. Bush congratulates Junior on his job as a baseball team owner. He adds about Saddam: "I just canít stand him." Dad says that Jeb will be governor of Florida. And one day he could even be president. Junior doesnít like to hear this talk.

1991. Operation Desert Storm. Bush Sr. is very pleased with the victory over Saddam. Some sentiment is for going all the way to Baghdad, but Bush figures they have gone far enough. He claims that this is the proudest day of his presidency.

1992. Clinton defeats George H.W. Bush for the presidency. Barbara Bush says that Clinton doesnít deserve to be president. Virtually crying, Bush says: "I thought the war would have carried us." Junior says that they should have continued on to Baghdad.

In his own bedroom with Laura, Junior tells his wife that his father is weak in spirit. Laura says that dad is just tired.

Junior tells his mother and father that he is going to run to be the governor of Texas. His mother is very dubious about the whole thing and says that Anne Richards is too hard to beat. Also this isnít fair to Jeb. And Junior canít win. Heís too much like his mother: loud and with too short of a fuse. Junior accuses his father of wanting Jeb to get elected before him. He virtually shouts: "Well, Iím running this time, Poppi."

1994. Junior runs for the governorship. Karl Rove scolds him for his poor performance, especially his concentration on issues of education. So Junior gives up and tells Rove: "Tell me what to do." Rove coaches Junior in giving the right answers in the right order. Now Junior talks about his being in touch with real people. As Rove says, heís the kind of man you would like to sit down with and have a beer. Junior comments: "This time, Iím going to out Texas, Texas."

Junior is inaugurated as the governor of Texas. Jeb lost his run for the Florida governorship. Junior, feeling overshadowed again by Jeb, asks his father: "Why do you just feel bad about Jeb?" His father gives him his grandfatherís cufflinks with an attached letter. Laura thinks itís a grand gesture but Junior wants to know why canít his father say these things to him directly rather than write them. Laura says thatís just his way.

Junior invites his old "born again"pastor over to see him. The pastor says that he now has his own radio show, the Earle Hudd Hour. Junior gets to the point by saying: "God wants me." He doesnít really have a great desire to be president, but since God wants him to be president, he has to do his duty.

Back to the present. 2003. George Tenet says he is sick of hearing about that "yellow cake" again. In his speech to congress, W talks about the uranium in Africa being sought by Saddam. He also links Saddam to Al Qaeda. John McCain and Nanci Pelosi are seen applauding the speech. W makes his famous statement that either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. Everyone stands and applauds the president, including Senator Teddy Kennedy.

Dad is bothered by all this talk about Iraq. Barbara tells him to call his son and tell him his concerns. But dad wonít do it. He says: "I canít talk to him. Itís his decision to make."

Brent Scowcroft lets out some doubts about the Iraq strategy. W is livid with anger over the remarks of "dadís good friend". Condi Rice says that she will call Brent right now and tell him his remarks are not appreciated. Bush tells Condi that in the presidency he has never asked his dad for advice.

Large demonstrations occur around the world complete with the burning of the American flag.

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain talks with W and Condi. Bush basically says they are going to go to war in early March. If Saddam doesnít give them a good pretext, they will just have to provoke the son-of-a-bitch. Blair is really put on the spot as they expect his willing approval and support.

W gets very mad at the president of France, who he refers to as "the frog". Condi tells W not to worry about that fellow. On television, they see Powell at the United Nations presenting the administrationís case against Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. W says that old Powell came thru in the end, didnít he? Rice says that it is the best speech Powell has ever given. W has 49 countries supporting his plans even though most of them do not offer any troops.

General Tommy Franks is the commander leading the invasion of Iraq. W is ecstatic when an American tank pulls down the huge statue of Saddam Hussein. Watching the same event, dad says: "Maybe he (W) got it right after all." W lands on an aircraft carrier to declare that they have prevailed in the Battle of Iraq.

But the war in Iraq continues. A total of 853 Americans have been killed in battle. General Franks says that they are in for a longer hall that what they originally expected. And now W demands to know: "Where are the weapons of mass destruction?" He is furious and demands to know who was in charge of finding the weapons. Everyone seems to pass the blame onto someone else. Condi finally blames an under secretary under Rumsfeld for fouling things up.

W visits wounded troops in the hospital. Back in the White House George tells his people that he has given up sweets in support of the troops. He still canít understand why Saddam acted as though he had weapons of mass destruction. The answer is that Saddam didnít want his people to know that he didnít have any such weapons. And he thought Bush was bluffing. The CIA guy apologizes to the president saying that they all thought there were WMDs in Iraq" "The integrity of our system has broken down. Iím obligated to resign." Bush just gets up and leaves followed by Condi and Dick.

W notices new wrinkles on his face. To cheer him up, Laura says she will get tickets for "Cats", his favorite play. She also says that people have no idea how hard this whole thing has been on the two of them. But soon the war will be over and they will have their lives back.

W has a nightmare in which his father tells him he has wrecked the Bush name, wrecked 200 years of work.

June 30, 2004. In a news conference W talks about meeting a deadline to leave Iraq. The reporters ask him about his place in history. He jokes that in the long run we will all be dead. And what about his biggest mistake? He says he knows he has made mistakes, but darned if he can think of any right at the moment. He really looks a bit lost.

W wants to be alone. And once again he finds himself out on the field in an empty baseball stadium. A bat strikes a ball and W runs back to catch it. But he cannot find the ball in the sky and keeps looking for it, somewhat dumbfounded.

 

Good movie.  I thought I knew George W. Bush already, but I did learn a new twist.  George both loved and resented his father for showing preference for the seemingly smarter brother Jeb.  This reflects a big problem and a common one in families.  Parents should try to avoid playing favorites with one or more siblings.  George W. acted like a real red-neck much of his early life and this attitude carried over and affected his presidency.  He surrounded himself with yes men who shared much of that red neck attitude toward foreign policy: Smash 'em if they give you trouble.  He did get some good advise from Colin Powell, but the military man was largely isolated and ignored as irrelevant.  George should have listened to the dissenters even if there were very few of them.  Most of the liberals were too afraid of being branded unpatriotic if they opposed Bush's plunge toward war with Iraq.   They hysteria after 9/11 created a poisonous atmosphere that made it impossible to stop the application of red-neck ideas to foreign policy.  And the hysteria is partly the result of the attitudes of a big part of the American people who are ever ready to abandon thought and civil liberties whenever there is a panic.  (I have written elsewhere that I never believed Bush and company's reasons for going to war and so opposed the very idea.) 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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