The Seduction of Joe Tynan is one of the best political movies I’ve ever seen and it reminds me a little bit of the Ted Kennedy-Jimmy Carter 1979-80 Democratic race for president, which I’ll get into later. Alan Alda plays Senator Joe Tynan from New York, who has solid Progressive Democratic credentials. Who is in love with his job and wants to move up and be a national player in the party if not President of the United States.
What separates him from Senator Ted Kennedy is that Senator Tynan, actually wants to be President. Ted Kennedy ran for president in the 1980, because he didn’t like where the country was going with the bad economy and everything else, didn’t think President Carter was progressive enough, but more importantly he felt some obligation to the progressive wing to run for president and put another Kennedy in the White House.
Joe Tynan, loves the president, loves campaigning, loves politics. I would say loves his kids back in New York as well, just not enough to make them a major priority as far as attending their major events. And I would say likes his wife a lot and perhaps loves her and is attracted to her, but doesn’t have much respect for her and sees her as bit of lightweight, at least as far as the people he deals with in Washington. And I believe this comes out pretty clearly in the movie as far as how Tynan talks about his wife whose played by the adorable and funny Barbara Harris.
What makes Tynan a strong potential presidential candidate is that the President a Democrat, has a U.S. Supreme Court nominee up. Who is a bit of a right-winger, at least on civil rights issues and supported forced segregation in the past, who comes from Arkansas. And that puts Senator Tynan in a tough position of having to consider taking on the leader of his party.
Joe Tynan, doesn’t want to take on the President and his Democratic Leadership in the Senate, but he’s not going to support right-wing Supreme Court nominee who supports forced segregation either. Especially since he’s looking at running for president himself. And is approached by civil rights and labor lawyers in the party who want him to vote against Supreme Court nominee. And is approached by Karen Traynor. (played by Meryl Streep)
Who is one of the Democratic activists trying to bring Tynan to their side and oppose Edward Anderson (played by Maurice Copeland) who is the Supreme Court nominee. She gets Tynan real evidence that he’s against civil rights with video of a speech that he gave in the 1960s and that’s how Senator Tynan comes out against Anderson. Which pisses off his close friend Senator Birney (played by Melvyn Douglas) who is a close friend of Anderson and a big supporter of him.
What you have in Joe Tynan is a workaholic who has become a career politician whose always focused on politics and always looking for the next big move in his career and when he’s not doing that and takes any free time, he does it with people other than his wife and family. Starts an affair with Karen Traynor, becomes a national player and hero in the Democratic Party, decides to run for president without even talking to his wife and kids.
Who starts off the movie having basically everything he wants and has everything going for him as a young influential U.S. Senator who can move legislation. But sees an opening to furthering his political career and jumps on that and in the process almost loses everything that he has. I think this is a very good movie about an ambitious workaholic career politician who is never completely happy and satisfied. And is always looking for more, even if it means losing everything that he already has.