Vice President Joe “Foghorn Leghorn” Biden remains a very dark horse candidate for the 2016 Democratic party presidential nod and being a canny career politician with no shame he is prone to histrionics. Whether it be emotional outbursts or the proclivity for putting his foot in his mouth old Joe can always be counted on to grab attention. In the unlikely event that Hillary Clinton’s inevitable coronation is derailed – perhaps by another Bubba sex scandal – Biden will be the only viable replacement. Liberal hero Elizabeth Warren? Forget it, she is just the newer version of the phony “hope and change” peddled by Advertising Age’s "2008 Marketer of the Year" Barack Obama. Bernie Sanders? The man is an admitted socialist and a borderline cadaver. Biden will be the only option if Queen Hillary for some reason decides not to run.
So it is incumbent upon blabbering Joe to grab some positive media attention while branding himself as an all-American guy. As a part of this imaging strategy the story has come out that he wept at the end of Clint Eastwood’s new movie American Sniper. According to The Daily Beast in a piece entitled “Oscar-Nominated ‘American Sniper’ Made Joe Biden Cry”:
While attending the Washington, DC, premiere of American Sniper held at the Burke Theatre at the U.S. Navy Memorial on Tuesday night, the Vice President of the United States offered his three-word review of the film. “It’s intense, man,” Joe Biden said, before adding that veterans still need our help and deserve our deepest respect.
In fact, the vice president enjoyed the film enough that, according to three separate people seated near him, Biden was moved to tears during the film's final sequence. Biden's is one of many positive reviews that American Sniper has earned.
Biden is just the type of cheesy bastard who would intentionally turn on the waterworks if he knew it would grab him some positive media coverage. Launching into phony crying jags is pretty simple if you stand to gain politically from it – look at how often that Speaker of the House John Boehner engages in displays of choking and sobbing. With the 2016 election meme well on the way towards becoming an orgy of flag-draped, apple pie authoritarianism and American exceptionalism (there is nothing exceptional about mass surveillance and a domestic police state) American Sniper is an early litmus test. The focus groups will be carefully watching the reaction to the movie which is already steeped in controversy over being too pro-war and drawing scorn from liberals.
Clint Eastwood has redeemed himself with many conservatives after his infamous appearance at the 2012 Republican National Convention by making this movie. Eastwood horrified Mitt Romney staffers with his bizarre, rambling conversation with an empty chair that stole the nominee’s thunder and sucked up media attention. The film is a dramatization of the life of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper who racked up over 150 kills while serving in Iraq. Kyle was decorated for his service and became a national hero but met an unexpected and tragic end when he was shot and killed by a PTSD afflicted Marine Corps veteran at a Texas shooting range.
I have always been a fan of Eastwood, ever since the early days when the epic western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly headed up a four-movie spaghetti western marathon at the local drive-in theatre. The first two Dirty Harry movies are classics and my other favorites during my formative years were Kelly’s Heroes and Where Eagles Dare. Later in his career Eastwood – who has identified his politics as being libertarian – became more settled in as an acclaimed director and less of an actor. American Sniper is not the first movie to be politicized nor will it be the last and Eastwood has seen his work glommed onto by politicians in the past. Don’t forget that Super Bowl Chrysler commercial “Halftime in America” that was immediately turned into a political football.
Such is the case with American Sniper with the reaction being typically divisive in a rapidly fracturing America (the establishment likes it that way) with the exchanges already pretty heated. With his films as a director often being more steeped in ambiguity and shades of gray – Letters from Iwo Jima, Gran Torino, Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby to name a few – it is probably a lot more difficult to pigeon-hole American Sniper as an ideological statement. Eastwood has made statements that he opposed going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq so the film may be far more nuanced than the professional yappers in the media are portraying it.
That will not stop the political travelers from trying though, especially a guy like Joe Biden who brings to mind the H.L. Mencken quote "Imagine a gentleman, and you have imagined everything that he was not".
While I have not seen the movie myself - and don't plan to given my loathing for anything that even remotely promotes the endless neocon wars of aggression - the politics of it all make me want to vomit. There will never be an end to war in The Homeland as long as there are people who insist on worshipping the professional killers of Empire like Chris Kyle. When he came back from the war and then became a celebrity he pretty much abandoned the pretense of a professional soldier for that of just another mercenary.