Friday, September 30, 2005

Inside The Bubble Says Little About Campaign

As we suspected from the initial clips, Inside the Bubble was more hype than anything which would provide any meaningful insight into the 2004 campaign Slate was not very impressed with the movie:

Unfortunately, Inside the Bubble, which premiered at the New York Television Festival Thursday, doesn’t do much to answer those questions. The movie overpromises the way sham politicians do. There are some amusing and entertaining moments, but there is little in it to explain why Kerry lost—no inside scoop from his senior advisers or much insight into the man himself. . .

Because the Steve Rosenbaum wasn’t given much access to the real strategists, he tries to make the subjects he gets sound more important than they are. When not doing that, the film tries to suggest that the confusion you’re watching represents the chaos afflicting the Kerry campaign. It doesn’t. It’s garden-variety chaos that hits all campaigns.

Early media coverage suggested that the film might be harmful to a future run by Kerry, but aspects might actually be helpful. Slate observes, “As for the candidate himself, we don’t see much of him that we haven’t seen already. But there are a few surprises. Kerry the candidate seems tantalizingly less stiff than we remember.” Kerry picks up a few points for some of the issues he discussed which might have seemed boring at the time but now indicate his foresight: “flood protection, coastal zone protection …” Just the kind of ideas which might be appealing to voters in 2008–and they might not even mind that he goofed off and interviewed himself off camera.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, but to be fair - ABC's TheNote had a pretty different take:

2004: Kerry-Edwards, the movie:
The cinematic Lloyd Grove has already called Steve Rosenbaum's new access-aided "Inside the Bubble" "a potentially devastating behind-the-scenes look at the Massachusetts senator's failed presidential campaign."

And a press release claims the movie "turns a harsh but deeply revealing mirror on the campaign . . . a disorganized, contentious, self-absorbed team that thought they could win by 'not making mistakes,' and keeping their candidate in the public eye without clarifying a position on anything."

The film premieres tonight at 6pm as a Special Screening at the New York Television Festival .

The Note had its own "special screening" this week (using retro analogue technology!!!), and provides this review:

On the upside, there are almost no boring scenes in this film, and even political reporters and most Note readers will see things they have never seen ? stuff such as inside the staff van (surprise: they are on their mobile phones and BlackBerries a LOT, and everyone is tired).

With all due respect to Ben Smith, the scenes involving John Kerry are actually quite revealing. There's one involving the Boston Globe, C-SPAN, and the Senator's legislative record that still has us reeling.

On the downside, watching the film is going to subject you to a lot of ungainly behavior.

And we predict right now that the Bush campaign staff and high command ? in watching said behavior and seeing the spartan make up of the Kerry campaign's election night boiler room ? are going to wonder how they ended up in such a close race.

The things you will likely find most memorable:

Jim Loftus and David Morehouse show as much maturity as (but less cuteness than) Morehouse's adorable son. And Loftus' use of profanity is mind-bogglingly repetitive ?particularly a certain Anglo-Saxon verb (over and over and over, and sometimes as a noun, an adjective, or a gerund).

Joe Biden using a curse word with the press, while he behaves just the way Norm likes it.

Glen Johnson being stymied by the candidate.

An awesome Hillary Clinton eye-roll in the direction of Terry McAuliffe at the St. Louis debate. Marty Slutsky LINK at the walk-through with Kerry is pure poetry.

Mark Mellman on camera giving the results of the insta-poll after the final debate is enticing. Mike McCurry has an extended cameo as Mike McCurry.

Mary and James make an appearance via a Kerry campaign bus screening of "The War Room." John Sasso is tough.

Watching John Glenn and Bruce Springsteen hug is delightful.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

The Note's review quotes others opinion but does not really provide any evidence of anything meaningfully bad about Kerry.

The Note quotes comments which claim the movie is harmful, but there didn't turn out to be anything very harmful there. It doesn't mean much for The Note to quote a press release or comments from the right wing media.

I already discussed the Hillary eye-roll. It occurs after Kerry makes a true statement and Bush has a dumb come back. She very well may have been rolling her eyes at Bush. Even if she was rolling her eyes about Kerry, it doesn't indicate any problems on Kerry's part as showed Kerry was correct (and didn't make a gaffe as one newspaper reported).

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

let's agree that the gossip stuff was silly (though Grove is an inside-the-beltway guy and he clearly HAD seen the film). But you seem to want to dismiss the entire film as nonsense, rather than what either the Observer or TheNote (neither of them right wing anything) suggest is a piece that is worthwhile, engaging, and informative.

i saw the film in NY on thursday - and the people who paid to see it seemed to be hungry for some sort of discussion about '04 - rather than sweep it under the rug. Can't we as dem's look beyond individuals (Kerry, Clinton, Obama, whoever) and instead discuss OUR party and what kind of future we have?

It seems to me (a friend of the filmmaker admittedly) that the hype has left a lot of noise, but very little room for a reasonable discussion.

Is that unfair?

2:51 PM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

The film may or may not have material that is worthwhile, informative, etc. My concern is more with the early hype which describes it as devastating to Kerry and suggests that this shoots down any chances at a 2008 run. Regardless of whether some find the film entertaining or informative, it is hardly a devastating attack on Kerry.

My real objection isn't to the film itself but to the hype primarily in the right wing media (and The Note does often repeat their reports rather uncritically).

4:00 PM  
Blogger Pamela Leavey said...


"It seems to me (a friend of the filmmaker admittedly)" - that explains your biased opinion right there. There is nothing in the movie that gives rise to answer the questions that the producer and director have seen to fit label the movie answers.

Slte was very apt at saying all campaigns are the same. I spent time around the traveling press pit during the Kerry campaign. It was always a three ring circus.

Honestly, I'd love to see the movie because I worked my tail off for nearly a year and half on that compaign as a writer for the Kerry Blog. I was inside the bubble myself a few times and know a few of the staffers in the movie.

The Note is only echoing what Grove said and it's pure spin.

Quite frankly it's clear that your friends involved with this movie sold out to recoup their possible financial losses. The line from about the SBL having credibility is a dead give away.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Pamela Leavey said...


By the by, why be such a prude over Jim Loftus' language? My goodness, the pony scene had nothing to do with the campaign, it was gag on on a staffer. So Jim swears like a trooper, that's nothing short of normal for overworked, underslept campaign staffers living on the road sustaining themself on coffee and take out.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm no prude. I think Loftus is a patriot and a gass to watch. I don't think his Pony stunt reflects badly on anyone. I think the issue with the Times Magazine cover is more about the campaign taking things like a bad photo personally, rather than saying - 'what did WE do to not manage this shoot' - though it isn't clear from the film if that was Loftus or Stephanie's job - maybe neither.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why not address the streghts and weaknesses of the campaing, rather than dismiss the film and the loss as simply 'bad luck' or misforture. Here's the latest review:

Fly on the wall film dims last hope for Kerry

Paul Harris in New York
Sunday October 2, 2005
The Observer

It must have seemed a good idea at the time. Allow a film-maker to document the inner workings of your presidential campaign, recording a victorious run to the White House ending in a glamorous Washington inauguration.

Of course, the dream scenario for last year's Democratic hopeful, John Kerry, involved him winning. Instead he lost. Now the decision to allow film-maker Steve Rosenbaum to film intimate moments of the Kerry campaign has probably scuppered his hopes of running again in 2008.

Rosenbaum has now released his documentary Inside The Bubble chronicling the Kerry bid for office. The film has made such painful viewing that many Democratic insiders - especially those close to rival 2008 candidates - feel Kerry's hopes of the White House have been for ever ended.

Choice moments include Kerry pretending to interview himself and babbling in Italian as he waited for a real interview to begin, senior aides cursing and shouting at reporters, and numerous baffling lapses of organisational ability. One shot has Hillary Clinton - who supposedly supported Kerry - rolling her eyes in a cartoonish fashion after Kerry slips up in a TV debate against George Bush.

But perhaps most painful of all is the hubris that seemed to overwhelm the Kerry camp on election day after early leaks of exit polls appeared to suggest he had won. As top Kerry aide Jim Loftus hands over the data he remarks gleefully: 'They have a word for that, and they usually write it in big black print on the front of newspapers and they call it a fucking landslide.' Meanwhile another aide remarks: 'I hear they are crying in the White House.'

Bush went on to win by three million votes - the narrowest margin for a sitting president since the Second World War.

Aides to Kerry have sought to dismiss the film as unimportant and claim they denied any real access to Rosenbaum and his crew. They point out that Kerry's coffers are still flush with some of the $16 million left at the end of the election and that he still draws large crowds to speeches. Kerry press spokesman David Wade called the film 'childish'.

But there is little doubt that many Democrats (or many potential Democratic voters) will watch the film in horror. The impression is of a campaign and a candidate who did not really know where it was going or trying to say. That was in contrast to the tightly run Bush campaign, which did not allow a crew to film it. It is marked with bizarre moments such as when Loftus rants about the inability of an advance team of aides to get a pony into a hotel room for a birthday celebration. 'When I was an advance guy, if someone said "get a pony on the 10th floor of this hotel in four hours"... I would have said: "What colour eyes should it have?"', Loftus fumes.

Rosenbaum, a Democrat, has said he did not set out to attack the campaign but that he felt, despite shooting 500 hours of film, that he never got any sense of who Kerry really wanted to be as a candidate. 'We spent months with the footage under lock and key, but in the end it seemed like someone needed to pull their heads out of the sand and ask the painful question: what happened?' Rosenbaum said.

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's been so startling has been to watch Democrats acting just like the Republicans in all this. Character assignations, empty assertions, talking points, the 'Blame Game' is no different than the "Snore Room" - catchy slogans that reporters repeat and blogs amplify.

That isn't who we are. At least, it's not who I am.

And the film isn't any of the things that the press (or even a poorly-copy edited press release) have turned it into. Pamela, you didn't see the film unless you stole a copy - because each and every copy was numbered and watermarked.

Instead -you went on the Kerry offensive - slagging the film as 'empty' and 'boring' without thinking about the long term impact of that characterization on your candidate or your party.

The film is honest. It is accurate. And real audiences (not political reporters looking for a 'gotcha moment) are finding the story of '04 engaging, funny, spirited, and even inspirational.

Pamela. Here's a offer - how 'bout a copy? Then rather than repeat other allegations or catch-phrases, you can see for yourself. I suspect you'll find the film actually helps both John Kerry and the Democrats - because we're not going to win within understanding why we lost. And this film should be part of that exploration.


Steven Rosenbaum
Inside The Bubble.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...


Hopefully you noticed that Pamela and my comments on the movie have been a bit different. I've objected not so much to the movie itself as to the early media coverage which described this as devastating to the Kerry campaign. The cllips I have been able to see do not back up these media comments.

I have no doubt that there were negative aspects to the campaign, but I also think this would be true of any campaign. I also agree there could be lessons for future campaigns.

If you are willing, I would be intersted in seeing a copy in order to write about the actual movie, as opposed to the media coverage and the clips available. If you'd like to set something up to send me a copy I can be emailed at

8:16 AM  

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