Air Force One was a pretty decent big-budget Hollywood Action flick. So much so, in fact, that most people probably don't remember the speech President Harrison Ford gave during the movie's opening moments. The setup isn't that important; there's enough context in the speech itself:
The dead remember our indifference. The dead remember our silence.
I came here tonight to be congratulated. But today when I visited the Red Cross camps overwhelmed by the flood of refugees fleeing from the horror of kazakhstan, I realized I don't deserve to be congratulated. None of us do. Let's be clear. The truth is, we acted too late. Only when our own national security was threatened did we act. Radek's regime murdered over 200,000 men, women, and children. And we watched it on TV. We let it happen. People were being slaughtered for over a year, and we issued economic sanctions and hid behind the rhetoric of diplomacy.
How dare we?
The dead remember. Real peace is not just the absence of conflict; it's the presence of justice.
Tonight I come to you with a pledge to change America's policy. Never again will I allow our political self-interest to deter us from doing what we know to be morally right. Atrocity and terror are not political weapons. And to those who would use them, your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate, and we will no longer be afraid. It's your turn to be afraid.
This was greeted by a rousing standing-O from the assembled multitudes, with the exception of the President's stodgy staff. In the limo ride away from the speech, the President's National Security Advisor was beside himself. "The allies are going to be very upset they weren't consulted about this." The Chief of Staff wasn't thrilled either: "It might come back and bite us in the ass in November."
The President shut them both down: "It's the right thing to do. And you know it."
I realize this is just a movie. However, it was a mainstream liberal Hollywood movie, starring a mainstream liberal actor as a mainstream liberal heroic President. It was made in 1997, when Golden Boy Bill Clinton was in office (they even have a Dee Dee Meyers lookalike as Press Secretary). And in this mainstream liberal fantasy, we see a heroic President who pledges to overthrow tyrants who brutalize their people, wherever they may be, regardless of whether our allies like it, and regardless of whether those tyrants pose an imminent threat to our national security.
And this was a good thing.
Again, I realize that this was just a movie. But I found it impossible to watch it without finding the movie eerily prescient. Hollywood got their liberal dream President. And his name is George W. Bush.
If Bush can be faulted (and he can), it's because he's not aggressive enough in pursuing the sort of truly liberal foreign policy advocated in the film. But that's not the criticism we hear from Hollywood these days.
So what changed?
Oh yeah. The party in the White House.