The recent performance of President Obama on ABC News’ Charles Gibson was extraordinary. He warned that if his healthcare legislation was not passed, the US government “will go bankrupt.” Additionally, “If we don’t pass it, here’s the guarantee….your premiums will go up, your employers are going to load up more costs on you… “Potentially they’re going to drop your coverage, because they just can’t afford an increase of 25 percent, 30 percent in terms of the costs of providing health care to employees each and every year.”
Quite the performance, just not something most would expect from the President of the United States. The exchange seemed more appropriate for used car salesmen or “boiler-room” stock scams. In short, the performance seemed both desperate and dishonest. My thought was, “Would I buy aluminum siding from this man?”
The desperation and dishonesty reminded me of the powerful performances in the movie, Glengary Glen Ross. The plot summary: “High-pressure salesman are always walking a thin, dangerous line between their main purpose in life (which is to deceive) and how they must appear (which is honest and genuine) . Whether or not a salesman truly believes he is selling a good product is immaterial. His main function is tell you what he thinks you want to hear so you will buy. He has to seem like he’s doing you a favor by letting you buy from him.”
The description seemed perfect for many modern day politicians. For those who have not seen the film, I highly recommend it. It was a drama with an outstanding cast. The language was intense, as might be expected from the likes of Al Pacino (Ricky Roma), Jack Lemmon (Shelley Levene), Alec Baldwin (Blake), Ed Harris(Dave Moss) & Kevin Spacey (John Williamson) in their particular roles. Despite this line-up, the film did not gross particularly well.
As I reminisced about the film and its unforgettable characters, I fantasized about owning the rights to a remake and casting President Obama in one of the roles. I used the following list and description of the characters to refresh my thoughts:
Al Pacino as Ricky Roma: He is the most successful salesman in the office. He is ruthless, dishonest and immoral, but succeeds because he has a talent for figuring out a client’s weaknesses and crafting a pitch that will exploit those weaknesses. Ed Harris as Dave Moss: He is a big-mouthed salesman with big dreams and ambitions. Harris describes his character as “the kind of guy who, when anything’s wrong, it’s not him. Blames everybody else”. Kevin Spacey as John Williamson: He is the office manager. The salesmen despise Williamson, but need him because he is the one who hands out the sales leads. Spacey saw his character as “the catalyst for events, since people are either struggling for or against him”. Alec Baldwin as Blake: He is brought in by Mitch and Murray to motivate the salesmen in a ruthless manner; this character was created for the film and did not appear in the stage version. Alan Arkin as George Aaronow: He is an aging and nervous salesman with low self-esteem who lacks confidence and hope. Despite this, he means well. Jack Lemmon as Shelley “The Machine” Levene: He is an older man, a once-successful and respected salesman who has recently fallen on hard times, and has not closed a big deal in a long time. Lemmon said of his character, “Shelly’s actions question where the morals and ethics are in America and how they have eroded in the quest for success.”
What a breakthrough! It was perfect, possibly pure genius. Obama’s persona and talent made him a natural to handle all four roles. He could be the only salesman for the Glengary Glen Ross properties. If he could sell the health care turkey, surely he could sell swamp land in Florida and other states.
Another advantage from the insight was staffing. It would be easier hiring one actor than four individuals. Furthermore, I doubted whether any other actor(s) could surpass what I perceived to be the greatest actor of all time. One actor presumably would also be cheaper. That would enhance the probability of profits.
At this point, I was ecstatic, dreaming of newly-found Hollywood mogul status complete with money, glory and lots of chicks. Obama would surely receive an Oscar upon announcement of his role(s). It would be the first Oscar ever awarded before filming even commenced. Wow. Making movies and history at the same time!
Then my wife woke me for dinner and back to the reality that this actor would not be available for at least three more years. Tis a pity, because I know Obama would be better in my movie than in his current acting role.