The Obama for America produced “documentary” “The Road We’ve Traveled” is definitely not going to win over any conservative fans. With a blockbuster directorial style, narration by Tom Hanks and a $20,300 per minute price tag, it nearly a parody of what right wing pundits would imagine liberals would create about themselves. It’s uncomfortably self-congratulatory and back-slapping, and creates a near mythic, folklorish president that is less leader and more legend.
It’s also an extremely powerfully thrown down gauntlet to kick off the 2012 presidential race.
To swelling, orchestral tones and the calming drones of Hank’s lines, the film makes it clear from the very beginning that President Barack Obama stood alone and solitary against an inherited economic crisis, war, even the very elements of nature as the snow-laden streets of Chicago seem to imply. Every decision, every success and most importantly, every failure, was to rest solely on his shoulders. It might have even felt noble if you could forget that this isn’t an outside view of events but an administration and its colleagues basically discussing themselves.
The scattered snippets of former President Bill Clinton adding his insights and praise did nothing to ease the awkwardness of film, and even added to it as shots of his wife in her capacity as Secretary of State cut in and out of the narrative.
But for the majority of those who were likely to be watching it, mostly activists, supporters, donors and potential campaign volunteers, the movie likely struck all the right notes. It was exactly 6 minutes in when the script took a shot at possible GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, accusing him of running away on the economy. It highlighted the more every day successes of the administration so far, from bringing home troops and health care reform that will cover hundreds of thousands more Americans. But it also spoke to the more special interest sections of the Democratic party, reminding them of his support for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’s repeal, the Lilly Ledbetter Act that would promote equal pay for equal work, or his appointment of two women to the Supreme Court.
In case there was any doubt that the campaign was positioning itself as a stark contrast to the GOP slate of candidates, they made it clear by reminding viewers of the return of funding for stem cell research, calling it “bringing back science,” or the lingering, loving shots of solar panels and windmills as they mention renewal energy.
As a means of communicating to the general population, frankly, “The Road We’ve Traveled” is a disaster. It’s pompous and full of its own self-importance. But as a message to its base, a reminder of what they can do together and how far they have come during the first three years, it was a love song meant to woo back any one who may have considered sitting this election out.
Photo from whitehouse.gov