I saw the movie Primary Colors in the spring of 1998. Doesn’t seem that long ago, but that’s a different story with a long time friend of mine from high school who’ll go nameless. And we saw it for free because my friend worked at a movie theater, one of the few perks of being friends of him. And I looked forward to seeing this movie, because it reminded me of a real life Southern politician another New Democrat. The real Liberal Democrats, who’s a political hero of mine, who had the ability and vision to do great things. But lacked personal discipline, made too many mistakes for someone with his intelligence who also had a strong take charge attractive wife played by Emma Thomas. Who’ve could’ve been very successful on her own.
The question being could her husband be successful on his own. Same question in this movie Primary Colors was full of scenes that looked like the real person I’m talking about and if you’ve seen the movie and follow American politics, you probably already know who I’m talking about. And the movie was also based on this real life person, liberal governor from the South who culturally fit in very well with his state and the broader region. Who didn’t have any Federal Government experience, not even serving in the military. Who despite being a Southerner, fit in very well with people outside of that region especially Northeastern and Hollywood Democrats who have a lot of power in the Democratic Party if not run the party.
The main politician in Primary Colors the character played by John Travolta, great actor and a very funny man GOV. Jack Stanton running for President, had the strong wife that I was talking about. Started running for President in New Hampshire with a very small budget and staff, just like the real life person. Had a sex scandal that involved a long time friend of the Governor, had really smart political strategist also from the South played by Billy Bob Thornton. Again long time friend of the Governor just like the real life person, veteran politicos as well a young people on his staff. Just like the real life person and there was a question of whether GOV. Stanton evaded the Vietnam War Draft just like the real life character.
There was a primary debate where GOV. Stanton had a big moment to win the debate just like the real movie. There was a campaign event, where GOV. Stanton was able to connect with the audience his I feel your pain moment just like the real movie. When GOV. Stanton basically told the audience that “I know times are tough, but I can’t promise you the jobs you lost are coming back. That its time that a lot of American workers go back to school and learn other trades”. Which also happened with the real life character. And of course the comeback kid moment in New Hampshire where GOV. Stanton does well enough in New Hampshire to keep his campaign going.
Of course the real life person I”m talking about is Bill Clinton who back in 1991-92, when he was running for President was Governor of Arkansas and was a Liberal Democrat ,but in the true sense. Progressive sure, but also understood the limits of government and the New Deal and Great Society. And that government has to be more responsible with tax revenue and of course all those situations that I just laid in the movie actually happened with Bill Clinton or were very similar.
Very intelligent, but not very discipline, strong intelligent wife with Hillary Clinton. Small budget and campaign in New Hampshire, memorable debate where he takes in Jerry Brown. The campaign event where he feels the senior citizens pain and walks up to her and hugs her. The sex scandal with Jennifer Flowers, the story of whether Bill Clinton dodged the Vietnam War. Great Political Strategist Jim Carville all of these things being true.
Primary Colors was based on Bill Clinton and his 1992 campaign for president where of course he was elected president. And also based on a book by author Joel Klein that was fictional with different names for the characters. But still based on a true story and they both did a very good job and this was a very entertaining movie.