October 19, 2004 -- “Bush's Brain” is an entertaining, if not entirely convincing story about Karl Rove, George Bush's effective campaign manager of many years, and how both men got started in the wild arena known as Texas politics.
The movie depicts Rove as a ruthless “win-by-any-means-necessary” political strategist with a penchant for dirty political tricks. The problem is, the movie offers very little proof of its allegations. It does, however, provide plenty of incriminating evidence. The documentary's method seems to be to throw as much mud as possible at Rove and Bush and see how much of it sticks. By the end, you get the distinct feeling that there must be some fire behind all this smoke. You also begin to wonder how Rove managed never to get caught if he really did pull all those dirty tricks.
The film makes a pretty compelling argument that any candidate who runs against the Bush-Rove machine is going to face a tough, take-no-prisoners campaign. Several candidates who ran up against Rove campaigns are military veterans have had their military records attacked. John Kerry is just the latest example of this. John McCain, a Republican and a war hero, faced the same kinds of attacks that Kerry has weathered. George Bush made the same denials then, as he is making now, that he had anything to do with these third party attack ads. The movie argues that Rove is the source of this strategy.
While the film offers no real proof of Rove's guilt, it does prove there are a lot of bodies left behind in these vicious political campaigns. A number of Rove's alleged victims are interviewed in the film, people whose lives and careers were ruined when they crossed paths with Rove. Several candidates beaten by Rove are interviewed in the film, including an ex-Congressman who lost both legs and an arm in the Vietnam War. He was defeated by Republicans who managed to make an incredible charge stick. They claimed the heroic Vietnam vet wasn't heroic enough. The success of Republicans in pinning the unpatriotic label on heroic vets is almost amazing as their ability to pin the label of patriot on the draft-dodging George Bush.
This documentary takes us inside the rough-and-tumble world of Texas politics. Its colorful depiction of these take-no-prisoners political rednecks is entertaining indeed. One colorful story claims Rove planted a bug in his own campaign office and then claimed his opponent did it. An FBI report is cited that an examination of the battery in the bug showed it had only been operational for 15 minutes before it was “discovered” by Rove. The film provides some insight into Bush and Rove, and into those vicious attack ads by the Swift Boat Veterans, among others. It explains a lot of things about the cutthroat tone of the current presidential political campaign. The film may not be very convincing, but it is an eye-opener. This film rates a B.
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