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Obama Wins Oscar


obama_smokingThe 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.”
  • obamacartooncd20091209124200The roles of Arkin and Lemmon were quickly rejected. They just did not fit. The other four roles could not be dispensed with so quickly. Each had good possibilities. Each had recognizable Obama traits. Obama could play any one of them and probably effortlessly.
    Then, my “Eureka moment” occurred. Together the four represented a nearly perfect composite of Obama. Why shouldn’t he play multiple roles? Why shouldn’t he play all these roles?  He was certainly talented enough. Each role involved substantial degrees of type-casting, presumably requiring little preparation for a talented actor.

    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.

    3 thoughts on “Obama Wins Oscar”

    1. Okay, not normally one I would comment on but, I have to rise to the defense of used car salesmen. One way of selling is to tell the potential customer whatever one thinks they want to hear and the truth be damned. We have all encountered them. And in this case the comparison to the bad stereotype and the movie caricature is certainly apt however, there are honest salesmen out there that care about reputation, repeat, and referral business that do things right. Selling does not require deception unless the product is terrible, the features are irrelevant or counter to the needs of the customer etc. etc. Many do use this path in lieu of gaining skills and providing a useful product or service. In this case, it is probably the only method available. So sad so many fall for the pitch. After all, how much damage is done if someone doesn’t look under the hood and buys a lemon from someone claiming its like new compared to what Obama is doing?

      1. Hitchhiker,

        You are correct. I apologize for using the stereotype of used car salesmen in my piece. The stereotypical view of used car salesmen conveys dishonesty and that was what I was trying to communicate. There are honest used car salesmen and honest financial brokers just as there are dishonest doctors and charities.

        The reality is that all salesmen who depend on repeat sales must be honest or they will have no repeat customers. Only in one-shot type sales can a salesman benefit from dishonesty. Politics is a series of one-shot sales. Each bill is a different product to be sold once. Thus, exaggerated promises and lies abound in the political realm, especially during election cycles. It is not by accident that health care “benefits” cannot be seen or felt until after the 2012 elections.

        I suppose the pols get away with it because we expect it of them. If you could be sure of electing an honest politician, maybe you wouldn’t want him because you would be paying for all the pork pushed into districts other than your own. Dirty, rotten business. If you are not corrupt when you enter it, it doesn’t take long to lose your virginity.


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