Bad news, Democrats: That bright, shining moment shone over 30 years ago, and was extinguished by one of the worst political defeats in U.S. history. According to this curiously lopsided documentary which is nonpartisan only in the sense that that it holds no brief for either the Clinton White House or the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush pere et fils the last beacon of hope and decency to rise above the murk and mire of American politics was Sen. George McGovern. McGovern, the unassuming "Prairie Statesman" from North Dakota, offered a voice of compassion and the promise of change to a country ripped apart by poverty, the civil-rights movements, women's lib, gay rights and, above all else, the war in Vietnam. An early critic of the Johnson administration's foreign and domestic policies, McGovern entered the gaping void left by the murder of Robert Kennedy and, in the summer of 1972, snatched the Democratic nomination for U.S. president away from Sen. Edwin Muskie. For one all-too-brief moment, it looked as though McGovern had a shot at evicting a paranoid and criminal Richard Nixon from the White House. Sadly for everyone who thought they saw a way off the dark road to perdition their country was following, it was not to be. No matter how sincere McGovern's dedication to ending the nightmare in Vietnam and his compassion for the poor, elderly and otherwise disenfranchised, his campaign was derailed by his perceived radicalism and, tragically, his own poor judgment. Running just a little over two hours and wordily narrated by talk-radio host Amy Goodman, Stephen Vittoria's hagiography spends more time bemoaning the past 30 years of U.S. political history and setting the dismal tone for McGovern's arrival on the political scene than it does on his 1972 campaign. Interviews with the likes of Gloria Steinem, Warren Beatty, McGovern's campaign managers Gary Hart and Frank Mankiewicz, the eminently quotable Gore Vidal and McGovern himself, still stentorian at 83, go a long way to rehabilitating this unfairly maligned candidate, who should by all rights be regarded as an elder statesman, not a political pariah. But the sad fact is that McGovern remains an inspiring but untested "what if?" and it's hard to believe that in the last quarter of the American century, he or any like-minded visionary could have significantly altered the course of events.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: Bad news, Democrats: That bright, shining moment shone over 30 years ago, and was extinguished by one of the worst political defeats in U.S. history. According to this curiously lopsided documentary which is nonpartisan only in the sense that that i… (more)