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Conservatism and the Dark Knight

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Here is Brian in Battle Creek, Michigan. Brian, thank you for waiting and welcome to the EIB Network.

CALLER: Yeah, thank you.

RUSH: Go right ahead, sir.

CALLER: Megadittos.

RUSH: Thank you very much.

CALLER: I've got two here. First, I had to go to your website to find a phone number and now I finally understand when you say the Messi-uh, what you actually are getting at with the uhs that he says.

RUSH: Right. The Messi-uh.

CALLER: Very clever. The other thing is I was wondering if you had a chance to see the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight.

RUSH: I have not seen the Batman movie and this studio did not send me an advance copy because they didn't have to. They knew with Heath Ledger having died that they were going to be a wordwide hit, here.

CALLER: Yeah.

RUSH: You know, with the rubberneck curiosity crowd.

CALLER: Uh-huh. Well, I had a chance to see it last night and I was noticing throughout the movie, -- at least with the dialogue between the characters -- there seemed to be a lot of metaphors that you could kind of throw in there about the war in Iraq.

RUSH: Let me ask you a question. I'm glad you called on this, Brian, because I need to ask you a question about something. Did you find the overall theme in values, good and evil and so forth, were conservative in this movie?

CALLER: Uh, yeah. I mean, as it turned out actually, I thought what they were saying, they were talking about Batman and how the people didn't like him, but he was doing the right thing.

RUSH: Exactly. And how hard it is when you are the lone guy doing the right thing because doing the right thing is hard. Everybody wants to go the easy way and he stuck to it despite the fact that everybody hated his guts.

CALLER: Exactly, exactly. And, you know, kind of the whole script itself -- it's just kind of a stretch by saying that it was one big metaphor for the whole situation going on. But at least the dialogue, man, it really -- and I'm not a guy who watches movies and says, "Oh, yeah! Look at that metaphor," you know, that sort of thing.

RUSH: So this stuff sort of leapt out at you.

CALLER: Yeah, it totally did.

RUSH: You are not a guy digging deep into movie dialogue, but this stuff you couldn't help but notice.

CALLER: Yeah, couldn't help -- and my buddy barely, who barely even knows who the hot governor of Michigan is, actually said something to me about it, too. Which I thought was surprising. It's interesting. I thought it was all interesting, to say the least.

RUSH: Your buddy who barely knows the "hot" governor of Michigan, did you say?

CALLER: Yeah, yeah, in some people's minds. Not mine.

RUSH: Yeah. Well, those things are always subjective.

CALLER: Yeah, I have a tough time thinking Canadians are hot.

RUSH: Yeah, I hear that. I know what you're talking about. It's interesting that you called about this, Barry, because there is in the Wall Street Journal today an opinion piece by Andrew Klavan. Andrew Klavan is a man who "has won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. His new novel, 'Empire of Lies,' is about an ordinary man confronting the war on terror." It is a fascinating piece, and the headline of Mr. Klavan's piece is: "What Bush and Batman Have in Common -- A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . . Oh, wait a minute. That's not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a 'W.' ...

"There seems to me no question that the Batman film 'The Dark Knight,' currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war," and here's Brian from Battle Creek, Michigan who got it and wanted to call and tell us about it. "Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past. And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society ... and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

"'The Dark Knight,' then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year's '300,' 'The Dark Knight' is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans. Conversely, time after time, left-wing films about the war on terror -- films like 'In The Valley of Elah,' 'Rendition' and 'Redacted' -- which preach moral equivalence and advocate surrender, that disrespect the military and their mission, that seem unable to distinguish the difference between America and Islamo-fascism, have bombed more spectacularly than Operation Shock and Awe." All these left-wing films bomb. Openly left-wing films about the war in Iraq, bomb. "Why is it...?" asks Andrew Klavan. This is a brilliant question.

"Why is it then that left-wingers feel free to make their films direct and realistic, whereas Hollywood conservatives have to put on a mask in order to speak what they know to be the truth? Why is it, indeed, that the conservative values that power our defense -- values like morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right -- only appear in fantasy or comic-inspired films like '300,' 'Lord of the Rings,' 'Narnia,' 'Spiderman 3' and now 'The Dark Knight'? The moment filmmakers take on the problem of Islamic terrorism in realistic films, suddenly those values vanish. The good guys become indistinguishable from the bad guys, and we end up denigrating the very heroes who defend us. Why should this be?" And he endeavors in the rest of the piece to answer the question.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: This is really a great piece by Andrew Klavan in the Wall Street Journal talking about the overwhelmingly conservative values that are throughout The Dark Knight, the Batman movie. I haven't seen it, so I'm relying on his review. But he raises a great question. The left can go out there and make all their trash- the-military, trash-the-war movies. They do it all right out in the open. All of these movies bomb, by the way. The Dark Knight, 300, The Passion of the Christ -- any number of these movies that have traditional values where right and wrong is clearly defined; the bad guys always lose, there's nothing of moral equivalence between evil and good; and yet -- those movies have to be presented as cartoons with the mask over the hero as in Batman. Why is this?

"Why should this be?" he asks. "The answers to these questions seem to me to be embedded in the story of 'The Dark Knight' itself: Doing what's right is hard, and speaking the truth is dangerous. Many have been abhorred for it, some killed, one [has even been] crucified. Leftists frequently complain that right-wing morality is simplistic. Morality is relative, they say; nuanced, complex. They're wrong, of course, even on their own terms. Left and right, all Americans know that freedom is better than slavery, that love is better than hate, kindness better than cruelty, tolerance better than bigotry. We don't always know how we know these things, and yet mysteriously we know them nonetheless. The true complexity arises when we must defend these values in a world that does not universally embrace them -- when we reach the place where we must be intolerant in order to defend tolerance, or unkind in order to defend kindness, or," sometimes we must be "hateful in order to defend what we love."

Now, that's a powerful, powerful paragraph. I will guarantee you that if there are leftists in this audience, they are having a cow right now because, you see: "[W]e must be intolerant in order to defend tolerance, or unkind in order to defend kindness"? Think of this whole business of "torture" that the left has attempted to convince the world that we are profoundly, egregiously guilty of; that torture is the norm in the way we treat prisoners of war. Of course, it's not. Waterboarding? We got everything we needed to know out of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed about what happened at 9/11. We are trying to defend what's right. We're defending freedom; we're defending liberty. We're defending greatness. Sometimes you have to do what it takes to get what you need. But if you have the underlying moral foundation, you always return to the values that define you, even if you have to abandon them to secure what you need for your own preservation.

The left will not do that. They will succumb. They will give up their freedom. They will give up their security. They will give up a lot of these things in order to not violate these precious concepts such as intolerance, bigotry -- except where the right wing is concerned. Then they will be filled with bigotry. They will be filled with intolerance -- i.e., demanding the Fairness Doctrine on talk radio. They will be filled with unkindness toward people that say things they don't like. So... "When heroes arise who take those difficult duties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve.

"As Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon says of the hated and hunted Batman, 'He has to run away -- because we have to chase him.' That's real moral complexity. And when our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes men must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; and that while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be heroes, true heroes often must slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised -- then and only then will we be able to pay President Bush his due and make good and true films about the war on terror. Perhaps that's when Hollywood conservatives will be able to take off their masks and speak plainly in the light of day."

They'll stop meeting in attics and private retreats, lest their meeting be discovered. This is an excellent piece by Andrew Klavan in the Wall Street Journal. As an addendum to this, I'll share a little conversation I had last night. I had a great series of questions from a dear, dear, dear, dear person close to me. "You know, I hear you talking about Obama and the Democrats and the liberals wanting defeat. Rush, I can't put my arms around the concept that they are Americans who want to lose a war. I just can't. I can't grasp that. I don't understand it. I don't want to believe that there are people that want to run this country, who actually don't like this country."

I thought, "Wow, what a great question."

So I endeavored to answer it. You've heard the answer on this program before. "They don't think they're hurting the country. They don't like it the way it is. They want to change it. They don't like capitalism; they don't like liberty and freedom. They don't like a number of things. They want to change it. They think they can improve it and perfect it by instituting policies that have been shown to fail around the world: socialism, vast extreme liberalism and so forth and so on." The same person was just expressing shock that if this John Edwards story is true, she could not believe it. She could not believe because she thought he cared so much about people, that Obama cares so much about people.

I said, "This is where character comes in when you start assessing these people. This is why associations matter." I said, "Look, you've got Obama. You've got Obama out there and he makes a speech that no president would make criticizing his own country, advancing this whole notion that we do nothing but torture, that we are imperfect, that we've got a lot to apologize for, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," and I said, "Who else does he know that thinks that? Well, Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, probably a lot of the Harvard professors who taught him, his wife. Pretty much everybody in his orbit has the same view of America that he does: that it's bad; that it's made a lot of mistakes. We have a lot to apologize for; we have a lot to feel guilty about.

"He doesn't see exceptionalism. He doesn't see any of this. He doesn't see optimism or positive things. He's a post-national 'citizen of the world,'" and then I said, "Look at the gaffes. He's visited 57 states. All the errors in the speech yesterday he made. 'Israel will always be a friend of Israel,' he said." These are legion. The Investor's Business Daily today has an editorial list with all of these gaffes. Some of them are pure ignorance. Some of them are dead wrong. Some of them are just misspoken things, that if any Republican, Dan Quayle or John McCain would say, and they would be all over them. I'd say, "Here you've got a guy in the White House that you never question his character. You never question his morality. You never question his steadfastness. You know he's not going to change his mind on things when he sets his mind to it. You know he's not going to give up, and you know that he's not going to sell his own country out -- and yet what's thought of him?"

The word that came back was "dumbass."

I said, "Yeah. You think, you think a guy whose character is unassailable, you think a guy whose purpose is known, you think someone who has no moral failures that we know of during his service as president or as governor (he's not flitting around getting caught in a hotel at 2:40 in the morning by Enquirer reporters, none of those things), this guy's lied about, vilified constantly for seven years, 7-1/2 years now. He's the one thing that has taken the defense in this country seriously and you think he's a dumbass, and you think Obama's brilliant. When, in fact, it's the other way around. Bush isn't a dumbass and Obama is not brilliant." If Obama can't have it explained to him, he can't say it, and yet, why the difference? Why is Bush looked at as a dumbass and Obama's brilliant? Stagecraft. It's image, packaging, marketing. Bush didn't care about stagecraft.

He should because the presidency is a lot about image and photos and pictures and PR. But he doesn't care about it. He has a job to do. You've heard me say this and people that know him say it: In person, you can keep up with him, 45 minutes without a stutter, without repeating a point, without breathing. This happened to me last August. I had dinner up there in the White House. We had cigars in the Treaty Room up in the residence. I told you about this. He spent 45 minutes taking me around the world, "Problems here, problems there. Here's what we're doing about it. Here's what Hu Jintao, the president of China, biggest problem he has is." He took me all around the world. He was confident, not at all like you guys see on television. I don't know why the difference; nobody knows why the difference exists.

Yet, here you've got you may not like him and he may not speak better, and you may wish he articulated better. But you know that when it comes to pursuing genuine evil, you can go about your business and not worry about it because he's going to take care of it along with his troops: the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. You don't know that about Obama. We don't trust that about Obama. We don't trust that about (sigh) very many liberals based on what they say. Yet Bush is hated, despised; and Obama is The Messiah, universally loved. Packaging, marketing, stagecraft -- and, of course, ideology with the slavish Disciple Media making Obama into something he's not.

I think this guy, Andrew Klavan, writing in The Wall Street Journal, that Batman no different than Bush in his views -- and I haven't seen The Dark Knight but it's just amazing. It is amazing how much hatred there is for Bush simply because he doesn't speak well. So people think he's embarrassing us as a country in Europe, when Europe loves Bush! Tony Blair loves Bush. Sarkozy loves Bush. Angela Merkel loves Bush. The Pope loves Bush. None of what is said about Bush is true, and he doesn't refute it -- which is, I think, why his opinion numbers are so low because he doesn't defend himself. It's not because he's hated. That's where the Democrats are making a big mistake, assuming he's hated and the election's going to be an up or down on him.

END TRANSCRIPT

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