'Let's go Bulworth...': If Barack Obama wants to act like a cinema president, which films should he copy?

Barack Obama has hinted that he wants to follow the lead of a fictional politician. But which other film plots should he follow?

In the 1998 movie Bulworth Warren Beatty played a senator who, about to lose an election, arranges – or tries to – his own assassination. Then, knowing he was soon to be dead both politically and physically, Beatty’s character begins to do the last thing you’re supposed to do in politics: speak his mind, often in raps.

Thankfully only the later part of that plot seems to have inspired Obama. The New York Times’ Peter Baker reported last week that Obama had spoken “longingly of ‘going Bulworth’” and telling it like it is.

As Baker’s story and other Obama moments have proven, it’s not the only Hollywood plot available to those in the West Wing...

“Going American President”

At the White House correspondents’ dinner, Obama rejected the call of a columnist to be more like Michael Douglas’s character in The American President. He asked Douglas: “Michael, what’s your secret, man? Could it be that you were an actor in an Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasy?” (In his defence, Sorkin co-wrote Bulworth).

“Going Harry Potter”

Although Obama probably wishes he could don an invisibility cape sometimes, the “Harry Potter theory of the presidency”, as explained by a White House aide, refers to being able to wave a wand and magically make something happen. Something Obama quickly learned he couldn’t do.  

“Going Primary Colors”

The nuclear option: get a 16-year-old pregnant, smear opposition leaders, cause another opponent to have a heart attack and eventually win the day to the dismay of your idealistic aides.  

“Going W”

If all else fails, point out just how incompetent the previous guy was.

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