In an earlier post, I mentioned how important it is that we stop treating presidents like gods and recognize they’re just ordinary jerks.
In that spirit, here’s a transcript (and audio) of LBJ ordering some pants, belching, and talking about his “nuts” and “bunghole.”
It’s not as good, though, as the incident Gene Healy recounts in The Cult of the Presidency, in which “asked by a reporter why America was in Vietnam, LBJ unzipped his fly, wagged his member at the audience and exclaimed, ‘this is why!’”
Healy suggests LBJ’s behavior there was the result of being intoxicated by power, but maybe it was just those uncomfortable pants.
In any event, perhaps it says something encouraging about the present times that the press would no longer suppress such a story. (Would they?)
The good news: they’re finally making an Atlas Shrugged movie, and they’re filming right now!
The bad news: pretty much every other detail associated with this story.
Just a few years ago, we were looking forward to an adaptation starring Angelina Jolie with a script from the writer of Braveheart.
Now we will get a $5 million movie directed by — and starring, as John Galt — a guy from the CW’s One Tree Hill. The screenplay is by Brian Patrick O’Toole, who did not write Braveheart, but who instead has written several direct-to-video horror movies with titles such as Evilution and Necropolitan.
I don’t want to pick on these people. It’s possible that they’ll make a decent movie. I can’t blame them for trying — I would, if I were them — and maybe freedom from studio meddling will let them make a film that’s true to the book’s ideas.
On the other hand, there’s nothing in the creators’ backgrounds to inspire confidence that they’re up to the extraordinary challenge that Atlas Shrugged presents. Rand’s epic, cinematic book — whatever you think of her personally or of Objectivism — deserved a big budget and Hollywood’s best talent, especially now that it has surged in popularity again.
Libertarians may especially enjoy Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, which is now playing in second-run theaters and coming to DVD in August.
I wish I could tell you more about why, but it’s the sort of movie that’s best entered with minimal knowledge. The plot involves a man (Ewan McGregor) assigned to write the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) who has recently been charged with war crimes for torture. An earlier ghost writer who worked on the book was found washed up on the beach at Martha’s Vineyard, and McGregor’s unnamed character tries to solve the mystery and avoid the same fate.
It was delightful to see the movie not only call attention to the Blair/Bush/Obama war crimes but also depict the CIA as nothing other than a force for evil in the world.
Above all, though, it’s a great, old-fashioned suspense thriller — written for intelligent adults, not teenagers — which is refreshing at a time when it seems that most movies are little more than a series of special effects, brutal killings, and/or dirty jokes.
I recall that Murray Rothbard referred to a certain type of film as a “movie movie.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’m pretty sure this is one.
Last week, Lew Rockwell posted an item about officers “subduing” and arresting two people who had the audacity to stand where President Obama’s motorcade wanted to go.
I recalled this yesterday as I read an October 1900 newspaper article, which reported an indignity that VP candidate Theodore Roosevelt suffered when newsboys threw mud at him “and greeted him with insulting language . . . as he departed from the church at which he had attended.” The story was a small item several pages into the paper and there is no indication that the boys were “subdued” or arrested, or that they got into any trouble at all. Instead, the mud-spattered TR just huffed off on his way.
The story included no quotes from experts on how terrible it is that our youth would show such disrespect for a great political leader and no editorializing.
Today, of course, this would be the top news story for a week, Chris Matthews would rend his garments over the blasphemy against our civic religion, and the kids would likely be tazed or killed, and, if they lived, charged with felonies.
Another newspaper article from the same month mentioned that trick-or-treaters stopped by the White House and were greeted by President and Mrs. McKinley. The kids weren’t participating in a photo op, but were just knocking on the front door as they would at any other house. Because you could do that, because the president was not a god.
For more details of the good old days when people treated presidents like the ordinary jerks they are (and how far we’ve fallen), I highly recommend Gene Healy’s The Cult of the Presidency.
(Cross-posted at The LRC Blog.)
UPDATE: Norman Horn points out that The Cult of the Presidency is now available online for free in PDF, Kindle, and ebook formats.
As Lew Rockwell and Ryan McMaken have recently observed, the media and politicians are increasingly trying to associate anyone who is “anti-government” with Timothy McVeigh, in a desperate attempt to discredit the Tea Party movement.
Obviously, McVeigh’s murderous actions demonstrate that he was no libertarian.
But was he even “anti-government,” as the media would have us believe?
In this blog post, libertarian law professor Ilya Somin shows that he was not. In fact, he was a Neo-Nazi.
[UPDATE: A number of people have written me to suggest that Somin has it wrong. Details here.]
You should read the whole thing, but here’s a sample:
In reality, McVeigh was a neo-Nazi and his attack was inspired by the Turner Diaries, a 1978 tract that advocated the use of terrorism to overthrow the US and establish a government explicitly based on Nazi Germany. If you suffer through the experience of actually reading The Turner Diaries, as I did, you will find that author William Pierce did not support anything remotely resembling limited government; indeed, he explicitly repudiated limited government conservatism in one part of the book.