I HAPPEN TO BE in the satirical overview business. The point of my work, if there is a point, is to give a satirical overview of what goes on today. Well, I can't.
If you live in a society which is nothing more or less than a movie version of itself, where a movie star plays president, though we know it's not really happening; where he gets shot, but walks into the hospital wisecracking, because it's not really happening; where he survives an assassin's bullet, which we know doesn't happen in America -- assassins don't miss in real-life America, only in the movie version; where the would-be assassin also thinks he's in the movies and is shooting the president to impress a teenage prostitute who is only a movie teenage prostitute, but in real life (if such exists) is a Yale undergraduate; where the secretary of state says he is in command and breaks down on camera, much like "Seven Days in May"; and where the lesson learned out of this experience by the First Lady of the land is not that we should control guns -- no, that we should control movies.
Guns don't shoot people, movies shoot people. Or, perhaps, guns don't shoot people, Americans shoot people. Control Americans.
So this government doesn't demand satirists or political pundits to analyze it; it demands experts more qualified, more at home, more familiar with the essence of a Ronald Reagan administration; it demands movie critics. So please treat my remarks as a movie critique of this picture, where you have a country that isn't real led by a leader who is made up (possibly the Manchurian Candidate) representing a philosophy which is truly unreal, which, from my point of view, now that I am in the movie criticism business, is the best thing to happen to us fans since the thrills, chills and laughs of Watergate.
So I really don't know what the liberals are complaining about. What we got here is Box Office, and show business always does well during times of economic crises. Look at the change in energy level. What was the last time the liberals were so up?
What was the energy level like in Washington when Jimmy Carter was president? Very low. Virtually unrecordable. Carter had low energy and it was catching. He had lots of grit, pluck and determination, but he couldn't keep us awake, and he knew it. That's why he was obsessed with the energy crisis. Not because of Arab oil, but because of his personal problems. When Jimmy Carter talked about energy, he was talking about himself. He couldn't hold even his own attention for very long -- he wandered, he drifted, even his smile had the vapors. He told us how hard he worked -- hours of reading, awesome study habits, great SAT score -- but he appeared to fade before our very eyes. He was hell on cartoonists! His image slipped off the page.
The real reason we didn't like Carter wasn't inflation and it wasn't Iran. It was energy. He was smaller than life. We demand that our leaders be larger than life, and that requires a certain kind of energy, an energy that resonates. In fact, it requires a sexual energy. Show me a man with powerful sexual energy and I'll show you a potential president of the United States.
FDR was nothing but sexual energy. He was strong, he was vital, he was attractive . . . and, in a wheelchair. Perfect! Safe sexual energy. Like Jon Voight in "Coming Home." Mr. New Deal and Mr. Win-The-War might have come to nothing if FDR were not sexy.
Lacking sex, Harry Truman had to resort to A-bombs. And he would have lost, in 1948, to Dewey if it wasn't a setup. Who could be less sexy than Truman but Thomas E. Dewey? A clear case of Republican miscasting.
Now Eisenhower radiated it.A solid, warm, caring, husbandly, post-coital glow, He took the Cold War and made it stable, okay, somehow unthreatening. Eisenhower had M-G-M white bread sexuality.
It was John F. Kennedy who introduced dangerous sex to the White House -- a cross between Cary Grant's style and James Dean's unreliability. The country shivered with Bay-of-Pigs highs and Cuban-missiles lows. And he played around -- not just with women, but with the country. We were charmed.
And LBJ!Raw, unharnessed sexual energy. It was as if Vietnam was a venereal by product of LBJ's sexual drive, banging away to keep his dominos up. LBJ was pure raunch in the White House.
And Nixon was pure porno -- shady, sneaky, unkempt, skulking. Mr. Hyde hungrily watching football players on TV. Of course the American people rejected Hubert Humphrey! Mr. Clean versus Mr. Dank? No contest.
And we would have rejected Jimmy Carter if not for his Playboy interview. Jimmy Carter, a pathetic president but a canny campaigner, understood that somehow he had to sex himself up to go over with the American voter. So he did the Playboy interview. He planted lust in his heart -- the first candidate to falsify sexual content to win high office. It's not an impeachable offense, but how can you respect a man like that?
So it's a pleasure to see a Ronald Reagan up on the Great Screen in White House Cinema I. The star that legends are made of: He eats bullets and Democrats; he poses on the White House lawn in riding pants as he cuts food stamps and the CETA program. He is master of the one-liner. Did you hear the one about the truly needy? Did you hear the one about the MX? Did you hear the one about the president who gets shot and still has trouble with Congress?
So I say, adore Ronald Reagan. He is the man of the moment, a man of grace and ease and benevolence -- to all of his immediate acquaintances. The man on a white Cadillac.