Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 28, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW....Julian Sanchez has a review today of The Day After Tomorrow, "the movie George Bush doesn't want you to see." It's very short but seems to hit the high points pretty well.

Now, it so happens that I reviewed the film last November based solely on its title (no really, it's right here), so there's no need to do it again. However, on the issue of potential White House concern with what is, after all, just a summer disaster flick, I've been waiting for opening day to provide some fascinating (yes, fascinating!) historical context for this. It turns out that the Bush administration is hardly the first to concern itself with the political impact of Hollywood extravaganzas.

A few weeks ago, reader Steven McCollum sent me a copy of the minutes for an Eisenhower cabinet meeting held on December 11, 1959. Sandwiched in between discussions of policy toward India and an ongoing steel strike, there's this:

"On the Beach" Mr. [Karl] Harr stated that this matter was being raised in Cabinet because of the unprecedented publicity given to this movie....He went over the paper summarizing the nature of the film and some of its shortcomings.

Gov. [Leo] Hoegh said that the film was regarded in OCDM [Office of Civil Defense Mobilization] as something very harmful because it produced a feeling of utter hopelessness, thus undermining OCDM's efforts to encourage preparedness on the part of all citizens.

There was also a 3-page "infoguide" to the movie, complete with talking points about scientific innacuracies in the film regarding the dangers of fallout (not as bad as you think!). There's also a 4-page Q&A from the Atomic Energy Commission and a 3-page discussion of the effect of nuclear war that ends with the cryptic phrase, "Simply to understand that 'unprecedented destruction' is not the same as 'unlimited destruction'...is crucial to intelligent discussion of the issues."

So there you have it: George Bush has his main global warming talking point already created for him, courtesy of Ike's spinmeisters half a century ago. All he has to explain is that while global warming might result in "unprecedented destruction," that's not the same thing as "unlimited destruction." Do you feel better now?

Kevin Drum 1:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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