'On Politics and the Art of Acting'
my tut-tuts in this post
. Listen, there's no need to get into a tut-tut argument with a guy who I generally agree with on the bigger picture of the war and the imbecility of the current administration. But when it comes to a Siskel & Ebert-like showdown over whether the Dems' Cot-gate drama was smart and good political theater, I say: Bring it on! The Dems' Cot-gate was not only a partisan empty gesture, it was also a case of bad acting. If you're going to go to the mattresses, go to the mattresses. Don't pack 'em up the next morning and think we're impressed. The only thing Dems accomplished was to make themselves look unserious. ... BTW: Of course politics is about 'political theater.' But I guess I was somewhat naively hoping for something like 'To Inherit the Wind' or 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' Instead, we're getting 'Laverne and Shirley' reruns on Capitol Hill these days. ... Who's writing Harry's scripts? I don't know. But whoever it is should be fired. .. Ah, for truly great political actors. No less than Arthur Miller
once said they're rare. His favorite was FDR:
My impulse is to say that he (Roosevelt) alone was not an actor, but I probably think that because he was such a good one. He could not stand on his legs, after all, but he took care never to exhibit weakness by appearing in his wheelchair or in any mood but upbeat, cheery optimism which at times he most certainly did not feel. Roosevelt was so genuine a star, his presence so overwhelming, that Republicans, consciously or not, have never ceased running against him for this whole half century.
Miller also expressed fascination for Bill Clinton (though he wasn't as impressed):
Clinton, except for those few minutes when lying about Lewinsky, was relaxed on camera in a way any actor would envy. And relaxation is the soul of the art, for one thing because it arouses receptivity rather than defensiveness in an audience. That receptivity brings to mind a friend of mine who many years ago won the prize for selling more Electrolux vacuum cleaners in the Bronx than any other door-to-door salesman. ...
Read on for his description of George W. Bush. Keep in mind this was written before 9/11 and before the bad-acting swagger became more pronounced.