Boogie Man ~ The Lee Atwater Story
- What historic information did you learn from this film?
There is a great deal of historic information that can be learned from the film. In my opinion there are many dimensions of the information that is related to history. First is the way the US politics is shaped over its history. The way different politicians reach to their desired positions. For example South of America has been described to be a place that has always had racial tensions. Therefore, the politicians over there use racial issues, most of which may be characterized as racist to win elections. The film also tells us of how elections in the US have been managed by election campaign managers like Lee and the role of establishment who may facilitate the candidates of their choice.
- Former Atwater Intern Tucker says, “You cannot understand American Politics if you don’t understand Lee Atwater.”
- Do you agree and why?
- What adjectives describe Atwater?
I most definitely agree to quote. American politics have been to a greater extent power politics which in an ideal situation should have been issue politics. People like Lee are always an integral part of this kind of politics who use different tactics to win elections at any cost. American politics are the reflection of the way Lee functioned.
When I was watching the film, at first I was kind of agree at Lee. At that moment I would describe him as an arrogant and an ambitious person who would not care for the consequences of his actions in the form of destroying other people’s lives and careers. But towards the end of the movie, I have realized that he was just himself a worried person who had many of his childhood subconscious memories buried in his mind. These worried made him a person who had become cruel towards the world and he kind of wanted to revenge something from his past.
- Do you think Lee Atwater was anti-establishment?
I do not think that Lee Atwater was anti establishment. In the film it has been mentioned that the establishment wanted to keep Lee away from the power corridors but I was not able to find a concrete evidence in the movie regarding the reasons that made the establishment think so. I think that Lee was able to find his way in to the power corridors and also work with the establishment to reach his goals and ambitions.
- What did Lee Atwater learn that the Democrats have not?
Lee Atwar learned that the general public is not really aware about what is good for them. The public in general and the rightists in particular are more interested in what tempts to their patriotism sentiments. To be more precise, the public can be attracted by creating fear and them presenting them with metaphoric solutions.
- Robert Novac states, “Democrats are sincere. While Republicans tend to be people who don’t believe in anything” Do you think this is true?
This statement is made regarding the politicians belonging to the two camps. I personally do think that Republicans are always in search of creating issues out of non-issues like in the most recent election we saw that Donald Trump always tried to create doubts regarding the patriotism of Hillary Clinton. On the other hand, Democrats are always talking about real issues like the increasing rift among different segments of society, climate change and other national and international issues.
- Mary Matalin stated, “When you have a talent as deep as Atwater’s and Carl Rove’s…losing the battle is not losing the war, and they don’t go away.
What we observe from the life of Atwater is that he never lost hope, though he had been worried about his career most of the times. He would come up with more power the same way he did when the bush senior was 8 points down to Dukakis and then Bush went on to win the election.
I think what she meant by saying “they don’t go away” is that you always have such people in a society. I also agree to this as we can see that such people who would do just anything to “win” are always present in each society.
- Do you believe that Lee Atwater’s techniques were used in the recent Donald Trump Campaign?
Of course, Donald Trump’s Campaign has been a reflection of the campaigns managed by Atwater. Donald Trump’s campaign has had a racial aspect where he used the sentiments of the white majority against the blacks and Latinos. This campaign had always focused on “making America great again” as if the Democratic mindset has somehow let down America.
- Research Willie Horton and explain how he was used in the 1988 campaign.
Willie Horton was a convicted murderer who was serving a life sentence (“Willie Horton Revisited”, 2016). He was released for a weekend furlough in 1986. The weekend furlough program was supported by the State of Massachusetts Governor, Michael Dukakis. Horton ran away and raped a women during the weekend furlough program. In the 1988 election the Republicans used the case of Horton against the then Democrat candidate, Michael Dukakis by claiming that he is the one who is responsible for giving relaxation to the criminals who go out of jails and again commit serious crimes. The master mind behind this hateful campaign was Lee Atwater who was the campaign manager for the Republican presidential nominee George Bush.
- Describe the two ads used for Willie Horton.
The first ad that I viewed portrays that Dukakis is against the death penalty while Bush is in favor of it. Dukakis is portrayed as the man responsible for the release of Willie Horton on a weekend pass who was already a murderer and raped another women during his weekend passes from the jail.
In another aid called the Revolving Door Attack. In this aid, Willie Horton has been shown who is coming out of a prison revolving door. Michael Dukakis has been presented as a person who was against the no payroll policy for convicted murderers and drug dealers which made it possible for Horton to come out of the jail on a weekend payroll and again commit a hideous crime of raping a white women.
- Do you believe the Ads were intentionally racist with the specific use of a Black Man?
I do believe that the use of Black Man was on purpose and was a racist act. I say it because that there would have been many white people who could have been exemplified but looking at the history of American culture and the rift between different races, it can be concluded that a black people were labeled as criminals who were a danger to the safety of white people and these black people were getting help from Democrats like Dukakis.
- “In 1988,” Mr. Atwater said, “fighting Dukakis, I said that I ‘would strip the bark off the little bastard’ and ‘make Willie Horton his running mate.’ I am sorry for both statements: the first for its naked cruelty, the second because it makes me sound racist, which I am not.” Reputation as ‘Ugly Campaigner’
- Do you believe Lee Atwater was sorry?
I do think that Lee Atwater was sorry. He was himself in pain and was engulfed by the fear of death. He has been creating fear in the minds of people against those he had been trying to win elections against. When he tasted a real fear himself, he might have looked back at his life and felt sorry for some of his selfish acts.
- Do you believe Ed Rollins’ story about the Bible being wrapped in cellophane negates Lee Atwater’s apology?
Well, what I felt from the different parts of the film that Ed Rollins might have been jealous of the success of Lee Atwater. He seems to be against Lee and it seems he could have been a lot more personal with Lee than one can imagine. That is why I would not take his point of view seriously when it comes to the Apology of Atwater.
- Why Did Howard University Students refuse to let Lee Atwater sit on the Board of Trustees?
Howard University has a historical standing on being liberal. The students considered Lee as a racist, which Lee always denied and did not want him to be on the Board of Trustees. The students protested vigorously and it forced Lee to resign from the board membership.