- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2015

How did this movie galvanize the national audience and bring in $26 million every 24 hours following its recent debut? Here is an explanation, which also illustrates why both Republicans and Democrats ardently pursue the middle class: Both side know the undeniable and traditional force of its bedrock power. “Middle America turned out in force to see American Sniper,” points out Hollywood Reporter analyst Brian Porreca.

Consider that venerable director Clint Eastwood and his production company spent a not-extravagant $60 million to complete the project about the life story of a former Navy SEAL. The film brought in over $105 million in its first four days, with the top-grossing theaters located in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, New York and California according to weekend data.

“It shows the depth of the movie. It is playing in both red states and blue states,” Warner’s domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman told the industry publication. “It’s the biggest opening of all time for a war film, but people don’t view it as a war film. It is about a true hero, and family and patriotism. It doesn’t matter that the movie is R-rated, which is sometimes a problem in smaller towns. This is the first real superhero movie.”

Not all agree with this, of course. Counters filmmaker Michael Moore in a tweet Sunday: “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.”


The flawless sound bites, the predictable applause — maybe it’s just too much. White House efforts to control media spin, audience reaction and the Democratic “brand” could backfire as a certain annual speech bears down on the U.S. like a very swift vehicle indeed.

“Are we ready for a big, noisy, overhyped prime-time production that has outgrown its simple origins and usually leaves us feeling both gorged and disappointed? If not, you may want to skip the State of the Union address and prepare for something humbler, like the Super Bowl,” says Steve Chapman, a Chicago Tribune columnist, who points out that President Obama has already been telling — and telling — the nation what he’ll talk about during the event.

“Cancel the State of the Union,” says Mr. Chapman, who points out that two previous presidents skipped the January rite, which was historically intended to be a simple affair rather than an imitation of the grand “Speech from the Throne” practiced by the British monarch. The address is also losing its audience, dropping in recent years from 52 million to 22 million viewers according to Nielsen.

“The State of the Union address has grown in step with presidential presumption. It’s a conspicuous symptom of a dangerous malady: We expect too much of our presidents and limit them too little,” Mr. Chapman notes. “Whether this event is still worth their time, however, is doubtful. If there was ever a time that direct exposure to presidential eloquence could melt the hearts of hostile legislators, it has passed. Even the public seems to have acquired immunity.”


So the State of the Union address is getting overexposed, has jumped the shark, is irrelevant? Well, no. The address itself will go down in history no matter what. But the culture surrounding it is vigorous, indeed. Now rumbling around the Twitterverse, a challenge to tweeting thinkers to summarize the address in three words.

A sampling from the collection accruing under the hashtag #StateoftheUnioninThreeWords: “I am ironman” (political strategist Keith Appell); “Gimme your money” (Fox host Jedediah Bila); “Tax, spend, repeat” (columnist Michelle Malkin); “Don’t blame Islam” (Media Research Center analyst Dan Gainor). The tweets multiplied by the hundreds — both pro- and anti-White House.


Terrorism has slipped by the economy as the biggest concern among all Americans. According to a big new Pew Research Center survey of “policy priorities,” 76 percent cite the former concern, 75 percent the latter.

But there are some big partisan differences: 87 percent of Republicans cite defending the nation from terrorism as a top priority, compared to 71 percent of Democrats. Another 71 percent of the GOP say strengthening the military takes precedence; 41 percent of Democrats agree. Six out of 10 Republicans are concerned about “moral breakdown” in the U.S. compared to 42 percent of Democrats; the GOPers also are way more concerned about tax and immigration reform as well.

And on the other side: two-thirds of Democrats insist protecting the environment is still a top priority; 35 percent of Republicans agree. And another 54 percent of Democrats say global warming is a top priority; 15 percent of Republicans agree.


“I don’t know where this will go, but I am definitely going to look at it. I think the world is falling apart, and I’ve been more right than wrong when it comes to foreign policy but we’ll see.”

— Sen. Lindsey Graham in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” when asked whether he had formed a presidential exploration committee. The South Carolina Republican is in Israel at the moment, incidentally, part of a congressional delegation that also includes Republican Sens. John McCain, Bob Corker and John Barrasso plus Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly and Tim Kaine, and independent Sen. Angus King.


“As we reflect on the life and the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we pause to recognize the progress that we have made as a nation and his steadfast leadership in that march toward a ‘more perfect union.’ We know that the path to this progress has been long and was bought with sacrifice, persistence, discipline and the conviction that we are better together,” observes Sen. Tim Scott.

“He showed the world that nonviolent resistance and its underlying message of love and understanding are both powerful strategies for social change. Dr. King continues to be a powerful inspiration,” the South Carolina Republican continues. “I hope that the important message of freedom, justice and equality that Dr. King spent his life fighting for continues to spread throughout our country and around our world.”


69 percent of Americans say a senior U.S. official should have been at the unity rally in Paris following recent terrorist attacks; 80 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of independents and 63 percent of Democrats agree.

50 percent overall say it would have been “safe” for either President Obama or Vice President Joseph R. Biden to attend; 67 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents and 36 percent of Democrats agree.

45 percent overall say the French have a favorable opinion of the U.S.; 38 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats agree.

38 percent say the French have an unfavorable opinion; 51 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents and 33 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent overall say either Mr. Obama or Mr. Biden should have gone to the rally; 57 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 29 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 12-14.

Rumors and chatter to jharper@washingtontimes; kindly follow @HarperBulletin.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide