Friday, October 21, 2005

Inside The Bubble: A Review

Inside the Bubble started out with a major strike against it. A few days prior to its release there were media claims that the movie "could end up being the silver bullet that kills Kerry's presidential chances for 2008." When discussing the movie, director Steven Rosenbaum didn't portray the movie as being this damaging to Kerry, but has suggested his movie provides valuable insights into why Kerry lost. Now that Rosenbaum has kindly send me a review copy I can say that both views of the movie are incorrect.

The movie appears more like the work of an amateur filming randomly with a camcorder than as a serious documentary. A segment on making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is given equal weight to complaints of Kerry staffers about Dick Cheney attacking Kerry by taking his statements out of context. Isolated problems, such as a snafu with the teleprompter at one speech, are stressed over the substance of the campaign. By both lacking access to those actually running the campaign, and by neglecting to provide serious analysis, the movie is unable to provide any meaningful insight as to why Kerry lost.

The film repeatedly substitutes cheap shots for serious analysis. The movie starts with Kerry staffers being excited over the exit polls and predicting victory, returning to this many times throughout the film. Before laughing at those who were overly confident of victory, we must remember how widespread such optimism was on election day. There are many other times in which it appears Rosenbaum is attempting to place the campaign in as bad a light as possible. I've previously discussed the clips of Hillary's scowl at one of the debates. The movie goes even beyond the clip I previously viewed in giving the impression that Kerry committed a gaffe with no word that his statements were verified by

Editorial comment is inserted into the film by providing periodic opinions of others without consideration of the validity of their complaints. When Kerry has an expert on stem cell research answer a reporter's question, the reporter's protest that this is "lame" is blindly accepted. There are frequent cuts to Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff who is typically critical of the campaign but lacking in sound arguments. Rosenbaum shows Karl Rove accusing Kerry of flip flopping, and then cuts to Wolff who makes the same charge based solely on the IWR vote. If Rosenbaum desired to provide meaningful commentary he might have provided background to show how the ambiguities of the vote made it a poor litmus test on the war. He might have added pre-war clips of Kerry warning George Bush not to rush to war, or perhaps of John Kerry calling for regime change in the United States at the time of the invasion. With all the time spent on trivia, Rosenbaum could have found a few moments to show portions of Kerry's Senate floor statement, or his Georgetown speech, to clarify his views on Iraq.

The lies of the Swift Boat Vets are handled as poorly as Kerry's position on Iraq. At least there are a few brief comments from Kerry staffers on the unfairness of the attacks. Staffers are also shown discussing the dangers of responding to what started out as an internet ad as this would provide more exposure to the story. Wolff calls the attacks true, even if not accurate, based upon the fact that Kerry was an opponent of the Vietnam war. He overlooks the serious inaccuracies in both the attacks on Kerry's war record and in the distortions of Kerry's anti-war activities by the Swift Boat Liars.

In uncritically disseminating the untrue right wing talking points that Kerry was a flip flopper, that Kerry's position on Iraq was in any way similar to Bush's, or that there is validity to the attacks of the Swift Boat Liars, Rosenbaum fails to understand both John Kerry and the issues surrounding the 2004 election.

As the movie fails as a serous analysis of the election, it does provide some moments of excitement as we see Kerry campaigning. The scenes which humanize Kerry may ultimately be beneficial to him considering the stereotype spread by the media. This could have been a far better film if it had done more to capture the excitement and hopes of the fall of 2004 as we believed we had the chance to bring about change. One Democrat who does come out appearing good in the movie is Joe Biden who confronts political reporters pointing out that the story should be about what comes out of the candidate's mouth, not the stories the media preferred such as which operative won the internal campaign battle of the day. Biden's criticism of the news media's coverage of the election also provides lessons which Rosenbaum should have considered in the production of this movie.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As i've said in numerous interivews - the film's goal was to create a conversation among Democrats about '04. I respect your point of view - but i think you don't really respond to the central questions about the film.

-What did we do wrong in '04?
-Whad did John Kerry learn from '04
-What can we do in '08 to not repeate '04

-Why have more than 48,384 American's downloaded clips from iFilm?

- Why did Time Magazine publish such a editorial picture of JK?

- Any most importantly - why would JK simply say he doesn't need the film?

For Morehouse, Loftus, Wolff, and others (all Democrats, all concerned about the future of the Party) to go on the record with thier honest concerns is brave and important.

For you to suggest that anyone who doesn't simply tow the party line is somehow a closet conservative is to suggeset that the future of the Democratic Party doesn't have room for discussion or debate.

This film was made to be part of the future of the Party, not a pointless condemnation of the past.

I'd challange you and other Kerry supporters to respond to the "Why" question since voters are clealry hungry to engage in that conversation.

Steven Rosenbaum
Director, Inside The Bubble

8:23 AM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

It isn't that I didn't respond to the issues of what went wrong in 2004, etc, but that I don'tbelieve you addressed these issues coherently in the movie. If the movie had really discussed these topics I'd have included them in my review.

The fact that people downloaded clips from the film is a sign of interest in the topic--not evidence that the topic was handled well. In light of the failures of the film, I cannot blame JK for not seeing any value in it.

I never said you must tow the party line or that you are a closet conservative. I am saying the film is a failure at presenting a meaningful view of the campaign.

I, and many others, have commented on the "why" question many times, but I don't see this being examined in the film.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Jim said... of the "lies of the Swift Boat Vets". What lies? Pretending John O'Neill was anything but truthful cost Senator Kerry dearly. If he intends to do anything in the future (beter Kerry than Hillary)he'll have to change his tactics with the veterans.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

O'Neil's statements were clearly lies. His statements contradicted both the official record and the statements of numerous people who were actually there. Some of the Swift Boat Liars even contradicted their own previous statements.

Add to this the clear association between O'Neil and GOP operatives and it is difficult to see his statements as anything other than intentional lies designed to harm political opponents.

1:33 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home