Ben Affleck Responds as House Republicans Forge Unity With Inappropriate Clip From The Town
If or when you ever think things are irretrievably toxic in Hollywood, at least keep in mind that its barons get things accomplished. (Even if those things occasionally mean Jack and Jill.) Not so much out in Washington, D.C., where the ongoing stalemate over the debt-ceiling increase has escalated to unprecedented levels of partisan brinksmanship. Now we're hearing about Hollywood actually influencing the rhetoric among House Republicans -- and not in a good way.
According to The Washington Post, a closed-door discussion Tuesday among House Republicans attempted to stir unity around Speaker John Boehner's debt-ceiling proposal. That proposal has since collapsed, but the efforts at unity seem to have worked thanks to a radically decontextualized citation from Ben Affleck's film The Town:
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the party's vote counter, began his talk by showing a clip from the movie, "The Town", trying to forge a sense of unity among the independent-minded caucus.
One character asks his friend: "I need your help. I can't tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later."
"Whose car are we gonna take," the character says.
After showing the clip, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), one of the most outspoken critics of leadership among the 87 freshmen, stood up to speak, according to GOP aides.
"I'm ready to drive the car," West replied, surprising many Republicans by giving his full-throated support for the plan.
As Talking Points Memo hastened to point out, the complete exchange from the film is a little more specific -- and a lot less magnanimous:
Doug MacRay: I need your help. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we're gonna hurt some people.
James Coughlin: ...Whose car we takin'?
Yikes. Replying to a request for comment, Affleck responded from the set of his upcoming film Argo: "I don't know if this is a compliment or the ultimate repudiation -- but if they're going to be watching movies, I think The Company Men is more appropriate."
Indeed, that film's glimpse at an American job market crushed by corporate greed and disloyalty is as relevant in the shadow of debt-ceiling talks at it was last fall. But what's most strange might be the implications of choosing a Ben Affleck film in the first place, particularly when the guy has spent the last year or so working on nonpartisan humanitarian efforts in Congo and East Africa with... Cindy McCain, the wife of ex-U.S. senator and 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain. He's living proof that that the dreaded Hollywood elite and Washington's conservative old guard can not only share ideological common ground but also have the common sense to work together on matters that, important as they are, have a lot less than American insolvency at stake. Anyway, if not for McCain, where the hell would Sarah Palin and her Tea Party acolytes be right now? Probably not volunteering their readiness "to drive the car," and definitely not volunteering to drive it off a freaking cliff.
· House Republicans delay vote on Boehner debt plan [Washington Post]
· Reservoir Dogs, Hill Edition [TPM]