One of the better movies I’ve seen this season is Argo, directed by and starring the talented and appealing Ben Affleck. The movie tells a fictionalized version of the true story of how a CIA operative helped six Americans escape from Iran during the hostage crisis of the Carter administration.
I, of course, had no problem with the filmmakers adding fictional dollops of drama, danger and adventure to the story. But I did object very strongly to the rewriting of history purely for purposes of pro-Democrat propaganda. The running gag in the movie concerns a make-believe sci-fi film called Argo that the CIA uses as a cover story. The battle cry of the good guys is, “Ar, go, f*** yourself.” But, as so often in Hollywood, it’s the political truth that gets f***ed.
Bad enough that the entire hostage crisis was subtly and not-so-subtly blamed on America in the movie. Even worse is the fact that the Democrat president’s idealistic incompetence in withdrawing American support for the Shah is completely passed over. It was this bone-headed Carter play that opened the floodgates of Islamo-fascism, allowing Ayatollah Khomeini to come to power — a bone-head move that Obama stupidly repeated when he withdrew support from Mubarak in Egypt and essentially handed the place over to the Muslim Brotherhood. As the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens recently said, “In the middle east there are two kinds of regimes — those that could be worse, and those that couldn’t be worse.” Carter and Obama both opted to abandon the former and allow the latter.
Also smoothed over in the movie is the president’s fatal incompetence in allowing a poorly planned rescue operation. At one point in the film, Affleck’s CIA agent is told to ditch his mission because the White House is mounting a rescue of its own. This is a suspenseful moment because we know Carter’s Eagle Claw plan will be a fatal failure, leaving eight U.S. servicemen dead in the desert. But the disaster is never mentioned in the film. Why not? Guess.
Finally, and most dishonestly, the picture ends with Carter’s voice telling us how all the hostages were eventually released and America came out of the incident with its values intact. Well, crap. The hostages were eventually released on the day Ronald Reagan took office, because the Iranians knew they could no longer depend on the puling, indecisive weakness of Carter, who let the humiliating hostage incident drag on for 444 days.
This sort of Democrats-do-no-wrong and Republicans-do-no-right propaganda is subtle but pervasive in Hollywood historical movies. Consider Charlie Wilson’s War, a strong Tom Hanks film that celebrated a Democrat’s role in the Cold War. In both the film and the book, the right wingers who made Wilson’s efforts possible are denigrated. And just the fact that Hollywood found practically the only 80’s Democrat who did anything to help Reagan defeat the Soviets — whereas they’ve never made a tribute to Reagan himself — is telling.
This is precisely what Conservatives have to learn to counter. The newspapers and history books may get it right — may — but it’s the movies people will remember. I’ve quoted him before, but I’ll do it again. When former Ambassador Joseph Wilson had his questionable actions rewritten as heroism in the dishonest film Fair Game, he said, “For people who have short memories or don’t read, this is the only way they will remember the period.”
The imagination is the only nation where Democrats get it right. We need to conquer that country.