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Tom Tangney

President Barack Obama dreams of going 'Bulworth'

As Barack Obama dealt with a trio of potential scandals last week (Benghazi, the IRS, and the Associated Press), he let slip a revealing movie reference.

President Obama let the The New York Times in on a private joke - that sometimes he gets so exasperated with the ways of Washington, that he dreams of "going Bulworth."

For those not up on their 1990's political comedies, that's the Warren Beatty film about a Senator who drops his politically correct mask and instead lets rip with a string of uncomfortable truths about the way Washington really works.

Bulworth really goes off the rails, drinking out of a flask during a debate and dressing like a rapper. That's not the part that appeals to Obama.

It's the no-holds-barred truth-telling that Obama must be drooling over. He's sort of trapped in an image of his own making - the cool cat who stays above the political fray.

Bulworth is the political id that Obama, aka super ego, dare not unleash.

Obama no doubt bristled when columnist Maureen Dowd compared him unfavorably a while back with one particular, fictional movie president. He let us know how he felt at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

"Of course, everybody has got plenty of advice. Maureen Dowd said I could solve my problems if I were just more like Michael Douglas in "The American President." And I know Michael is here tonight," Obama said. "Michael, what's your secret? Could it be that you were an actor in a Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasy? Might that have something to do with it?"

As has been pointed out by many others, Obama doesn't really sound like he's joking there.

"I'm sorry, I get frustrated sometimes," he added.

Staying with this Hollywood presidential theme, when Spielberg's "Lincoln" film came out last year, a lot of Democrats saw parallels with Obama, another good man up against tough odds. That comparison seems to have backfired on him. After all, Lincoln was not afraid to get down and dirty to win the day on the 13th Amendment and Obama couldn't even get gun control passed with 90 percent of the public in his corner.

That gives the comic video the White House put together with Stephen Spielberg for the Correspondents' Dinner an ironic tinge. The gag is that Daniel Day Lewis is cast as Obama and does such a good job he looks and talks exactly like Obama. But even Day Lewis struggles to understand him.

"The hardest part? Trying to understand his motivations. Why did he pursue health care first? Why doesn't he get mad? If I were him, I would be mad all the time. But I'm not him, I'm Daniel Day Lewis."

The truth is Obama probably IS really mad all the time. But like Daniel Day Lewis, he's such a disciplined actor he never lets on. But now we know there's a Bulworth dying to get out.

Tom Tangney, KIRO Radio Host, Film & Media Critic
Tom Tangney is the co-host of The Tom and Curley Show on KIRO Radio and resident enthusiast of...everything. As the film and media critic on the Morning News on KIRO Radio, he espouses his love for books, movies, TV, art, pop culture, politics, sports, and Husky football.
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By day, you can hear Tom on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, and by night, he sits in the dark, making snide comments about what he sees on the silver screen.

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