Illinois Governor: Mamet Come to Life

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s wiretapped conversations were so profane that it struck more than one commentator as worthy of a David Mamet play.

Timothy Egan writes in the New York Times, “Putting aside the peculiar dialect of desperation that made the governor sound like a John Malkovich character in a David Mamet play, the complaint showed a man trolling the depths of darkness.”

Marc Ambinder: “Wiretap porn — un-bleeping believable, isn’t it? It’s like Fitzgerald hired David bleeping Mamet to write the indictment. To be sure, what captivated the press yesterday was not the allegation that Blagojevich held up hospital funding in exchange for a campaign contribution. That was merely (allegedly) evil. No, what was repeated ad nauseam was the non-criminal stuff. What he called Barack Obama. His banal musings about the value of the appointment — cynical, not criminal; his Yosemite-Sam braggadacio — eyerolling to some, sad to others, not criminal. The feds included all this to hurt Blagojevich and to build their case in public.”

When I saw “November,” Mamet’s irreverent take on a corrupt commander in chief, played by Nathan Lane, my first reaction was that it was a bit too over the top. Maybe I was wrong.

Another Investigation:
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the feds are investigating Sen. Norm Coleman’s ties to businessman Nasser Kazeminy. They are looking into allegations that Kazeminy tried to steer money to personally benefit Coleman.

KCRW Rebuke:
Ruth Seymour, general manager of KCRW, plans to issue a statement distancing itself from “The Business” host Claude Brodesser-Akner’s remarks comparing LA Film Festival director Rich Raddon’s to the Hollywood blacklist. Raddon resigned after it was publicly revealed that he had contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign, provoking an outcry from filmmakers and same-sex marriage activists. Seymour called Brodesser-Akner’s remarks an “out of the blue opinion” and says she has “made it clear to those involved that it is unacceptable.” (LA Observed).

But the Los Angeles Times editorializes on whether the Prop 8 boycotts amount to a blacklist.

“As much as we abhorred Proposition 8, there’s nothing to cheer about when private individuals are afraid to donate to the political campaigns of their choice because it may cost them their livelihood. In the case of Scott Eckern, who resigned from the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento, the future of the nonprofit company was at stake after some artists refused to work with him. But what if that situation were reversed and Eckern were targeted because he opposed Proposition 8? Or because he was gay? Professionals have to look past their personal and political differences or everyone with an opinion will be on an official list of undesirables.

“The line between boycott and blacklist can be imprecise. Owners and officers of companies aren’t just private individuals; they must accept that their political actions will reflect on the organizations they head and act accordingly. But a heated debate about a basic right — in this case, the right to marry whom one chooses — must also consider the rights of citizens to vote and donate without intimidation.”

Political Film of the Year: Jeffrey Ressner of the Politico names “Milk,” and ranks others in the top ten.

He writes, “Anchored by a near-perfect performance from Sean Penn, this biopic of the first openly gay American elected official focuses heavily on the political process that Harvey Milk saw as the gateway for social change. Director Gus Van Sant recently told Interview magazine about his first reaction to the script: “The personal parts of the story were always kind of filtered through the politics, which I’d never seen done before, really.” Van Sant needn’t have worried that the characters talk only about politics — Milk’s life was politics, and the film’s depiction of the struggle against 1978’s Proposition 6, regarding gay public school teachers, bears striking similarities to the ongoing battle over 2008’s anti-same-sex-marriage initiative, Proposition 8.”

“Milk” was chosen as best film of the year by the New York Film Critics.

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