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THE IDES OF POLITICS

The Ides of March is a fictional movie depicting the world of inside politics.

Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is the Deputy Campaign Manager for Mike Morris (George Clooney), Governor of Pennsylvania and a Democratic presidential candidate, competing against Arkansas Senator Ted Pullman (Michael Mantell). The candidates are campaigning in Ohio. A win for Morris would all but guarantee him the nomination; a win for Pullman would give him vital momentum. Both campaigns are also attempting to enlist the endorsement of North Carolina Democratic Senator Franklin Thompson (Jeffrey Wright), who controls 356 convention delegates, enough to clinch the nomination for either candidate.

After a debate, Meyers is asked by Pullman’s Campaign Manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) to attend a secret meeting. Meyers calls his boss, Senior Campaign Manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who doesn’t answer. Zara calls Meyers back and asks what was important but Meyers says it was nothing to worry about.

Meyers starts a sexual relationship with Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood), an intern for Morris’ campaign and daughter of Jack Stearns (Gregory Itzin), the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Late one night when Molly is in his room sleeping, Meyers discovers that the Governor is trying to call her. She and Morris had a brief sexual liaison at a campaign stop inIowa several weeks previously, and Molly is now pregnant with Morris’ baby. Meyers helps her with money for an abortion but warns her not to tell anybody. Meyers also fires Molly from the campaign

Meyers admits to Zara that he met with Duffy, who told Meyers that Pullmanwill offer Senator Thompson the position of Secretary of State, guaranteeing his victory by bringing hundreds of delegates with him. Ida (Marisa Tomei), a reporter for the New York Times, reveals that an anonymous source leaked his encounter with Duffy to her and that she will publish unless Meyers gives her all of the information about his meeting with Thompson. Meyers comes to Zara for help. Zara reveals that he leaked the meeting to Ida and fires Meyers from the campaign for showing a “lack of loyalty” in meeting with Duffy.

Meanwhile, Molly learns that Meyers has been fired and, fearing that her secret will now be exposed, she overdoses on pills and alcohol and dies. Meyers feels guilty about this, as he did intend to expose Morris’ affair (and likely implicate Molly) in exchange for a job on Senator Pullman’s campaign.

At a secret, late-night rendezvous, he confronts Morris, telling him that he will expose the affair with Molly if Morris does not accept his demands: fire Zara, rehire Meyers, place Meyers in charge of the campaign, and offer Senator Thompson a cabinet-level position as Secretary of State, thus securing Thompson’s delegates and guaranteeing the nomination. Morris resists, but Meyers claims that he has a suicide note found in Molly’s room. After a back-and-forth in which either or both men appear to bluff a final show of cards, Morris relents and meets all of Meyer’s demands. Morris becomes the nominee despite losing the Ohio primary election toPullman, and despite all of his high-blown lip service to integrity and uncompromising devotion to ideas and higher ideals.

The movie ends with an eerie lone interview scene thus completing Meyers total transformation. Much like Primary Colors, the Ides of March sets the background within the Democratic Party. This movie is more than a fictional depiction of scandal within politics. It’s an admission. They are admitting that vile behavior is ignored as long as the “right” policies for the masses are advanced by the election of their flawed candidate. Both movies show the “coming of age” of the politcal puritans who truly believe in their candidate only to discover not only their human side but also their dark side.  Morris campaigns as a Constitutional atheist (much like real life Bill Mahr), anti-war (Ron Paul), social program (every Democrat on the planet), and a visionary radical (claims he will outlaw gasoline combustion engines in favor of green energy … like when Michael Douglas in The American President was going to confiscate all the guns in the hands of private citizens). The movie itself is idealistic. Despite it’s attempt to expose the dirty side of politics it is also excusing it in the sense of the “greater” good.

George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio, excutive producers and creators of this movie, are very open about their liberal political ideology. Is this movie a rally call to the liberal base of the Democratic Party loathing Obama’s lack of  not enough radicalism? Are they reminding the base, “Stay with our flawed guy. We get more with him than without.” Is it a quiet message to Republicans who have watched the rise and demise of Herman Cain and relentless attack on Newt Gingrich and GOP elite protection of Mitt Romney. Is Clooney’s character actually a look at Romney?

Check out the movie The Ides of March this weekend.

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