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  1. #1
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    Tomorrowland (spoilers!) discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    I keep getting reminded of why I don't do well in this contest, even though I tell myself to hold my nose and pick movies that I wouldn't see in a million years (Transformers, the Twilight films, the Mission Impossible stuff).

    That message was reinforced today as I took a movie day and finally saw the Avengers and Tomorrowland.

    I was greatly disappointed by The Avengers ... and I loved the first one. I thought it was dull and pointless. It's going to make $500 million plus.

    On the other hand, I was blown away by Tomorrowland. Despite the so-so reviews and the fading box office, I thought it was a brilliant film -- by far the best Bird has done. Easily the best film I've seen in the last couple of years. Yet, it will be lucky to reach $150 million.

    I don't get it.
    Because Tomorrowland was a bad movie, by far the worst of Bird's career. Udaman was right that the movie is a trainwreck structurally - the first act is offputting, the middle of the film is solid extended chase sequences with some inspired setpieces, and the last act is just a mess. We spend the entire movie hearing about Tomorrowland, and the movie gets there and there's basically no one there except the villain, who is defeated in about fifteen minutes. And the themes of the movie were impossibly muddled, which can be ignored in an otherwise great movie like The Incredibles, but in something like this it's just a distraction. Just a deeply disappointing effort.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Duvall View Post
    Because Tomorrowland was a bad movie, by far the worst of Bird's career. Udaman was right that the movie is a trainwreck structurally - the first act is offputting, the middle of the film is solid extended chase sequences with some inspired setpieces, and the last act is just a mess. We spend the entire movie hearing about Tomorrowland, and the movie gets there and there's basically no one there except the villain, who is defeated in about fifteen minutes. And the themes of the movie were impossibly muddled, which can be ignored in an otherwise great movie like The Incredibles, but in something like this it's just a distraction. Just a deeply disappointing effort.
    Well, obviously that's the conventional opinion. And just as obviously, I strongly disagree. I thought the first third of the movie was a wonderfully unfolding mystery with appealing heroes (especially Casey and Athena), the middle is an entertaining chase sequence with some inspired set pieces (as you suggest) and the ending was -- to me -- a brilliant refusal to surrender to the stale movie clichés that have plagued almost all Hollywood science fiction.

    It's hard to talk about without spoilers ... so it you don't want to know, stop readying here. Otherwise, scroll down ...














    There was an article in Time Magazine just two weeks ago about the strong tendency of science fiction to adopt the "man was not meant to play God" philosophy. It dates back to Mary Schelley's Frankenstein (actually, it can be traced back even farther -- to the Greek Icarus myth). It was the theme of Capek's Rossum's Universal Robots in 1920. It is pervasive in movie sci fi from Godzilla (a monster created by our nuclear testing) to the Terminator films (Skynet, created to protect us, is out to destroy us) to the latest Avengers (Stark creates Ultron to defend us and it tries to destroy us). It shows up in Star Trek a number of times (including the first Star Trek movie). Heck, even the new Adam Sandler's comedy Pixels envisions an alien attack in response to a message we sent to the stars.

    BTW, the Time Magazine article was suggesting the threat is real, that the movies have it right and that humanity is going to be threatened by artificial intelligence in the very near future, even quoting the likes of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk as predicting such a disaster.

    That's the kind of fear of future that Tomorrowland confronts. It's a Luddite-like fear that I'm sure dates back to when the first caveman discovered the value of fire. I'm sure that when he tried to heat his cave, there were others in his tribe complaining about the dangers of the smoke or the possibilities of being burned.

    And, you know what, those fears are real -- you can get badly burned by fire or suffer from smoke inhalation. But that's true of almost any innovation -- from fire to the wheel to the combustion engine to nuclear power. All come with risks and dangers -- but all come with great benefits to mankind. When you view human history, you see that almost every invention or innovation that has advanced humanity toward a better future has come with risks and has initially been opposed by a large segment of the population.

    But there is always a small minority that believe in the future -- who believe that man can play god -- and who fight to improve the human condition ... people like Casey, the Clooney character and those who created Tomorrowland. The movie raises an interesting question about midway through -- is Tomorrowland a utopia for a select elite? Or is it a testing ground to create a better future for humanity? I think it's clear that it began as the former and was turned into the latter by Dr. House and his cronies

    The final third of the movie, which so disappoints Duvall, confronts the debate between the Luddites and the Dreamers head on -- but because it understands that the debate is nuanced, we don't get the clearcut good guy/bad guy paragon that we're so comfortable with. Hugh Laurie, secure in his private utopia, is happy to let the world be destroyed. Casey and Clooney still believe in the future (at least Casey does -- she drags Clooney along with her) and they fight to save it. Laurie is not really a bad bad guy -- notice that he doesn't kill Clooney and Casey when he has them in his power .. he's going to banish them back to earth (okay, an earth he knows is due to be destroyed). He's an elitist -- and basically afraid of humanity. But most importantly, Laurie represents those who want to freeze history ... they fear change ... they fear the future. He wanted to freeze Tomorrowland and not open it to the world. And the result, he turned it into an empty, arid place.

    Duvall complains that when the movie finally gets to Tomorrowland, there's nobody there except the bad guy (and a few henchmen). BUT THAT"S THE POINT. Laure has destroyed Tomorrowland by stopping its development, by freezing it in time. Notice how dark and run down the place is. The paving stones beneath the floating railway are crumbling. He halted recruiting more than 20 years earlier and banished those (like Clooney) who didn't share his vision. Of course the place is empty and run down.

    I'm sorry the fight at the end didn't stir your juices -- for that I guess you have to see Mad Max or The Avengers (now THERE was a movie with some long fight scenes!). But Tomorrowland was not a movie about combat ... it was a movie about ideas ... ideas that were not laid out for the viewer in simplistic terms.

    I thought it was a great film ... but obviously, that's a minority opinion.

    PS I haven't even brought up the subplot about the relationship between Athena and the Clooney character, which touches on some themes that a couple or recent films (Her and Ex-Machina) have devoted whole movies to.

  3. #3
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    OlympicFan - I applaud your support for the movie. To me that's one of the great things about movies is that each person gets the opportunity to like or dislike each show. Some people hated The Thin Red Line (myself included), some feel it's fantastic.

    As I said, I was actually surprised by Tomorrowland because I was expecting it to be worse given the negative reviews. But...I still found it disappointing. While I'll agree with your comments about what the movie was trying to do and say (and there's no doubt that it was deep, and that Brad Bird put a ton of thought into the message he was delivering), I still feel that it failed. And not just on its lack of being able to get across the point it was trying to make. Some of my problems: Note, these are spoilers...










    1) The beginning with the little kid moving to Tomorrowland was whatever the opposite of anachronistic is. It's the early 1960's, and suddenly in Tomorrowland there's technology from the future (even though they admitted that it wasn't the future, it was just another dimension)?

    2) The kid flying around was like a scene I've seen in dozens of movies - and because of that I never felt any concern that he wouldn't make it, or that at one point it would seem like he wasn't going to make it, only then he would.

    3) The girl breaking into NASA to break down the cranes was entirely unrealistic.

    4) As I said, I liked the middle part, but it never explained who was sending the robots, or where they were from, or why they were even in the other dimension - who cares about the other dimension. Was it to find and stop people from getting the pin? OK, maybe, but it had been decades since anyone got on. And that part, as good as it was, was way too violent for anyone under 8.

    5) How did the device that teleported them to the Eifel Tower work?

    6) The Eifel Tower as a rocket ship? Really? I mean really?

    7) Why was Tomorrowland broken down when they went back? This it never explains. I think it would have been much better if Tomorrowland was thriving. That's why they wouldn't care about the other dimension, because theirs was so great.

    8) And the idea that "we are causing our own destruction because we were sent a bunch of negative thoughts and we actually embraced them instead of running from them" well...to me it's simplistic to say the least. I guess it's getting to the Planet of the Apes idea that we are violent at our very nature...but I still couldn't understand why the Tomorrowland people would keep sending the signal - because they wanted earth to destroy itself? Who cares? The people of Earth couldn't get to Tomorrowland anyway.

    9) And the very end with sending out more robots to bring back more people...just silly. And really just an advertisement for Disney. Bring your pin to our park, and you can be one of the chosen one who...do what exactly? Clean up Tomorrowland? Build more buildings? And what about the existing Earth? Why poach from that dimension to build a new better one?

    I don't know...it just seemed to try and do too many different things....and as much as I liked the idea of the robot - human interaction, it was a little creepy seeing a grown Clooney looking longingly at a 12 year old little girl. Would have been better as a father / daughter kind of thing...or if they had kept it to the "I grew up, but you can't, and that's not fair."

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Udaman View Post
    OlympicFan - I applaud your support for the movie. To me that's one of the great things about movies is that each person gets the opportunity to like or dislike each show. Some people hated The Thin Red Line (myself included), some feel it's fantastic.

    As I said, I was actually surprised by Tomorrowland because I was expecting it to be worse given the negative reviews. But...I still found it disappointing. While I'll agree with your comments about what the movie was trying to do and say (and there's no doubt that it was deep, and that Brad Bird put a ton of thought into the message he was delivering), I still feel that it failed. And not just on its lack of being able to get across the point it was trying to make. Some of my problems: Note, these are spoilers...










    1) The beginning with the little kid moving to Tomorrowland was whatever the opposite of anachronistic is. It's the early 1960's, and suddenly in Tomorrowland there's technology from the future (even though they admitted that it wasn't the future, it was just another dimension)?

    2) The kid flying around was like a scene I've seen in dozens of movies - and because of that I never felt any concern that he wouldn't make it, or that at one point it would seem like he wasn't going to make it, only then he would.

    3) The girl breaking into NASA to break down the cranes was entirely unrealistic.

    4) As I said, I liked the middle part, but it never explained who was sending the robots, or where they were from, or why they were even in the other dimension - who cares about the other dimension. Was it to find and stop people from getting the pin? OK, maybe, but it had been decades since anyone got on. And that part, as good as it was, was way too violent for anyone under 8.

    5) How did the device that teleported them to the Eifel Tower work?

    6) The Eifel Tower as a rocket ship? Really? I mean really?

    7) Why was Tomorrowland broken down when they went back? This it never explains. I think it would have been much better if Tomorrowland was thriving. That's why they wouldn't care about the other dimension, because theirs was so great.

    8) And the idea that "we are causing our own destruction because we were sent a bunch of negative thoughts and we actually embraced them instead of running from them" well...to me it's simplistic to say the least. I guess it's getting to the Planet of the Apes idea that we are violent at our very nature...but I still couldn't understand why the Tomorrowland people would keep sending the signal - because they wanted earth to destroy itself? Who cares? The people of Earth couldn't get to Tomorrowland anyway.

    9) And the very end with sending out more robots to bring back more people...just silly. And really just an advertisement for Disney. Bring your pin to our park, and you can be one of the chosen one who...do what exactly? Clean up Tomorrowland? Build more buildings? And what about the existing Earth? Why poach from that dimension to build a new better one?

    I don't know...it just seemed to try and do too many different things....and as much as I liked the idea of the robot - human interaction, it was a little creepy seeing a grown Clooney looking longingly at a 12 year old little girl. Would have been better as a father / daughter kind of thing...or if they had kept it to the "I grew up, but you can't, and that's not fair."
    Agree with pretty much all of this.

    One thing about the kid flying around... when he tested his jetpack and crashed violently, how was he not killed or paralyzed? I mean, he took a ROUGH landing. Just unreal that nothing happened.

    As for Tomorrowland not thriving... maybe they ran out of $$ to keep the special effects running? :-P

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Udaman View Post
    OlympicFan - I applaud your support for the movie. To me that's one of the great things about movies is that each person gets the opportunity to like or dislike each show. Some people hated The Thin Red Line (myself included), some feel it's fantastic.

    As I said, I was actually surprised by Tomorrowland because I was expecting it to be worse given the negative reviews. But...I still found it disappointing. While I'll agree with your comments about what the movie was trying to do and say (and there's no doubt that it was deep, and that Brad Bird put a ton of thought into the message he was delivering), I still feel that it failed. And not just on its lack of being able to get across the point it was trying to make. Some of my problems: Note, these are spoilers...










    1) The beginning with the little kid moving to Tomorrowland was whatever the opposite of anachronistic is. It's the early 1960's, and suddenly in Tomorrowland there's technology from the future (even though they admitted that it wasn't the future, it was just another dimension)?

    2) The kid flying around was like a scene I've seen in dozens of movies - and because of that I never felt any concern that he wouldn't make it, or that at one point it would seem like he wasn't going to make it, only then he would.

    3) The girl breaking into NASA to break down the cranes was entirely unrealistic.

    4) As I said, I liked the middle part, but it never explained who was sending the robots, or where they were from, or why they were even in the other dimension - who cares about the other dimension. Was it to find and stop people from getting the pin? OK, maybe, but it had been decades since anyone got on. And that part, as good as it was, was way too violent for anyone under 8.

    5) How did the device that teleported them to the Eifel Tower work?

    6) The Eifel Tower as a rocket ship? Really? I mean really?

    7) Why was Tomorrowland broken down when they went back? This it never explains. I think it would have been much better if Tomorrowland was thriving. That's why they wouldn't care about the other dimension, because theirs was so great.

    8) And the idea that "we are causing our own destruction because we were sent a bunch of negative thoughts and we actually embraced them instead of running from them" well...to me it's simplistic to say the least. I guess it's getting to the Planet of the Apes idea that we are violent at our very nature...but I still couldn't understand why the Tomorrowland people would keep sending the signal - because they wanted earth to destroy itself? Who cares? The people of Earth couldn't get to Tomorrowland anyway.

    9) And the very end with sending out more robots to bring back more people...just silly. And really just an advertisement for Disney. Bring your pin to our park, and you can be one of the chosen one who...do what exactly? Clean up Tomorrowland? Build more buildings? And what about the existing Earth? Why poach from that dimension to build a new better one?

    I don't know...it just seemed to try and do too many different things....and as much as I liked the idea of the robot - human interaction, it was a little creepy seeing a grown Clooney looking longingly at a 12 year old little girl. Would have been better as a father / daughter kind of thing...or if they had kept it to the "I grew up, but you can't, and that's not fair."
    We really ought to break this out into another thread -- we never did have a Tomorrowland thread of its own.

    I also understand and embrace the different way that movies impact people. I can remember walking out of "1941" a few million years ago and turning to my brother and saying "I hurt myself laughing" ... a few minutes later, a woman leaving the theater turned to her friend and said "That was the worse movie I ever saw." BTW, I feel about Thin Red Line like I do about most Malik movies -- I admire it more than I enjoyed it.

    Now back to Tomorrowland (spoilers) ...










    (1) I just don't understand your problem with the opening segment when the young Clooney first goes to Tomorrowland. I thought that was the premise of the movie, that they were developing fantastic technological advances and were far beyond normal human technology. I thought the idea was that they were carefully introducing that technology to the world because -- as I've talked about -- most innovations and inventions are disruptive and even dangerous. I thought it was an amusing point that entry to Tomorrowland was through the "It's a Small World" ride -- at the time when Disney's animatronics in that ride were cutting edge robot technology.

    (2) The kid with his rocket pack was a quick scene. I could understand your objection if it was something they lingered on, but it was done quickly and forgotten (although interesting that he revived the jet pack in the final moments to destroy the Tacyon Machine). And, Ferry, you could not suspend disbelief for the seconds it would take to accept that the kid's violent crash didn't kill him? Have you seen an Iron Man movie or The Avengers. Even if such a suit existed, anytime Stark when from 100-plus mpg to dead stop, the human being inside that suit would turn to jelly -- no matter how strong the suit is, the centrifical force would kill him. Just accept that the kid got lucky on that landing -- and note that when a kid flying an advanced jetpack during Casey's first visit to Tomorrowland crashes, he's protected by an inflatable safety suit -- so the idea is that young Clooney got lucky, but acknowledged the danger. Is that so hartd to accept?

    (3) If they girl were breaking into an active NASA sight ... maybe. But it was a demolition zone. They were tearing the launch pad down. Any expensive NASA artifacts would have been long gone. They were just reclaiming the steel from the pad. I can accept that it would ne no more guarded than any other construction/demolition zone (and as I kid, I spent a lot of time in such places ... a buddy of mine got drunk and stole a bulldozer one night ... he was arrested, deriving it down Garrett Road). Yeah, I have no problem accepting that Casey got in a demolition project and was able to sabotage the cranes.

    (4) Again, I don't understand your confusion. I thought it was clear that the robots were pursuing Casey to get to Athena. It was Athena they were after -- not Casey or Clooney. She was the dangerous one. That's obvious from the wild and crazy scene at the sci-fi story ... when the two owners/robots keep demanding to know where the little girl is.

    (5) How do the transporters on the Enterprise work? How did the teleportation devise in the Fly work. How about the one they were testing in The Philadelphia Experiment? I have no idea how they worked ... but that's part of the fun. It's advanced technology. It was a sort-range (from somewhere in Maine to Paris) teleportation devise, that's very dangerous and painful to use.

  6. #6
    Sorry to double-post, but I accidently sent my last post before I was finished ... and when I tried to edit and post the whole thing, it timed out on me.

    So let me finish up my response to Udaman's points:

    (6) Actually, the Eifel Tower was merely the launch tower (remember those things being torn down in the opening sequence?) for the rocket ship buried beneath the tower. I can't see why this bothers you ... unlike rocket packs and teleportation devices -- long a staple of science fiction -- the idea that the Eifel Tower hides a interdimensional rocket seems to me a wonderful flight of inventive fancy.

    (7) As I mentioned before, I thought the fact that Tomorrowland was broken down when they returned was a function of Laurie's decision to freeze history in the city. He stopped recruiting new inhabitants. He banished those who disagreed with him. His focus seemed to be on stealing what he wanted from the soon-to-die earth, rather than maintaining the city's infrastructure (and without going into PPF territory, aren't there many modern politicians who would rather let our infrastructure crumble than raise taxes?). Cities are living organisms. They grow ... they decay. One other possibility. Remember that the vision Casey had of the vibrant, populated city was just a vision -- a commercial, according to Athena (and we all know how distorted those can be). I need to re-watch the movie to make sure, but I don't remember the great teaming masses when the young Clooney visits the city. Maybe there never was more than a small population?

    (8) I think that rather the message that we are a destructive race, I believe the movie contends that the human race contains both constructive and destructive forces. On the hole, the constructive forces do prevail (obviously with many setbacks and defeats). That's the whole point of believing in the future. The point in the movie was that the negative broadcasts of the Tacyon machine were tipping the balance, fueling the destructive side of the human race (BTW: Great early Star Trek episode confronts the issue of the destructive/constructive duality of man: A Taste of Armageddon).

    And as to why the Tomorrowland people would keep sending the message, that's easy to answer -- they didn't know they were doing it until Casey figured out what was happening at the very end. And Laurie, confronted by the charge that he was causing the earth's destruction, like all politicians, refused to admit his mistake. And to have turned off the machine at that point would have been an admission of his error.

    (9) I thought the ending was glorious -- a new generation of dreamers recruited to rebuilding Tomorrowland and recapturing the original vision -- that it would become a template to rebuild the world. Remember, about halfway through, Clooney tells Casey that they were just about to go public with Tomorrowland before ... something happened (obviously Laurie and his cronies saw the future in the Tacyon machine and broke ties with earth). I believe it's clear that was the original purpose that Edison, Tesla, Verne and Eifel conceived the place.

    Finally, I just don't get your problems with the Clooney-Athena relationship. Clearly, as a young boy of the same age, he loved her ... and it broke him to realize that she was a machine. It does contain a strong element of "I grew up while you remained a child" -- but Athena was never a child, she was a robot. I don't see their relationship as creepy (although I can see the idea of ANY human/AI romance is creepy), but as addressing so many of the issues that most movies about human-AI romance avoid. I loved that she never quite tells him that she loved him, although that's strong implied ... instead, the payoff is when she laughs (at her own joke).

    Damn, I loved that movie ... not sure I can wait until the DVD release to see it again. If I do go back, it will be my first repeat viewing in the theater since the original Jurassic Park more than 20 years ago.

  7. #7
    Had to revive this thread (and essentially to triple post) because of an amazing coincidence:

    Earlier this week, I finally watched the Blue-Ray edition of the film ... then two nights later, I watched Trump's "Midnight in America" speech from Cleveland.

    I was stunned how much one reflected on the other. As I listened to Trump, I couldn't help but think of Clooney talking about his childhood visit to the World's Fair -- a time when we still believed in the future. And the sequence where Casey sits through a series of classes at her school, listening to how terrible the world is, while trying to ask a question -- "How can we fix it."

    My admiration for the film -- which shows up in this thread from last summer -- was reinforced by my recent viewings (I admit, I watched it twice in a row).

    I even more believe Tomorrowland is a great film ... and amazingly relevant to what's happening in our world today. I'd discuss that in more detail, but I'm afraid I'd wander into PPB territory.

    PS The Blue Ray edition has some deleted scenes. Most deserved to be cut, but one scene -- the Volcano scene -- was brilliant and I wish had been included. It's early, in between the scenes where Casey is a little girl looking at the stars and the scene where she is a teenager, destroying construction equipment.

    It's set when she's 8-9 years old at a science fair. A boy shows off this huge volcano, spewing fake lava. The young Casey then reveals her anti-volcano project -- first reading some notes about how destructive volcanos are and how many human lives have been lost in eruptions ... then flying a small model helicopter (the same one she uses to later to attack the construction sites) to the boy's volcano, where it releases as a small bomb that stops the eruption of the model volcano. I think that scene perfectly defines who the character is.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    Had to revive this thread (and essentially to triple post) because of an amazing coincidence:

    Earlier this week, I finally watched the Blue-Ray edition of the film ... then two nights later, I watched Trump's "Midnight in America" speech from Cleveland.

    I was stunned how much one reflected on the other. As I listened to Trump, I couldn't help but think of Clooney talking about his childhood visit to the World's Fair -- a time when we still believed in the future. And the sequence where Casey sits through a series of classes at her school, listening to how terrible the world is, while trying to ask a question -- "How can we fix it."

    My admiration for the film -- which shows up in this thread from last summer -- was reinforced by my recent viewings (I admit, I watched it twice in a row).

    I even more believe Tomorrowland is a great film ... and amazingly relevant to what's happening in our world today. I'd discuss that in more detail, but I'm afraid I'd wander into PPB territory.

    PS The Blue Ray edition has some deleted scenes. Most deserved to be cut, but one scene -- the Volcano scene -- was brilliant and I wish had been included. It's early, in between the scenes where Casey is a little girl looking at the stars and the scene where she is a teenager, destroying construction equipment.

    It's set when she's 8-9 years old at a science fair. A boy shows off this huge volcano, spewing fake lava. The young Casey then reveals her anti-volcano project -- first reading some notes about how destructive volcanos are and how many human lives have been lost in eruptions ... then flying a small model helicopter (the same one she uses to later to attack the construction sites) to the boy's volcano, where it releases as a small bomb that stops the eruption of the model volcano. I think that scene perfectly defines who the character is.

    I call it his "Nightmare in America" speech.

    Just sayin'...

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    Had to revive this thread (and essentially to triple post) because of an amazing coincidence:

    Earlier this week, I finally watched the Blue-Ray edition of the film ... then two nights later, I watched Trump's "Midnight in America" speech from Cleveland.

    I was stunned how much one reflected on the other. As I listened to Trump, I couldn't help but think of Clooney talking about his childhood visit to the World's Fair -- a time when we still believed in the future. And the sequence where Casey sits through a series of classes at her school, listening to how terrible the world is, while trying to ask a question -- "How can we fix it."

    ...
    Any parallels to "The American President?" Trump's approach could be compared to Bob Rumson's:

    "I've known Bob Rumson for years, and I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character. ..."


    Now, a character debate with Hillary Clinton would be MUCH easier than a debate with Sydney Ellen Wade or her boyfriend Andrew Sheppard, but the comparison to Rumson amuses me. Life imitating art.

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