Before “The Godfather Part III” was released in 1990 I had a feeling it was going to be a stinker. The tipoff was when Daily Variety reported George Hamilton was going to be playing Tom Hagen, the Corleone consigliore, replacing Robert Duvall. George Hamilton clearly had better hair and a better tan (Duvall is pasty and bald) but when it comes to acting talent … let’s just say Hamilton had a better tan.
Sofia Coppola, daughter of director Francis Ford Coppola, was cast as Mary Corleone, the heroine in Godfather III. (Eerie trivia: Mary was to be played by Winona Ryder, who fell ill, and then by Rebecca Shaeffer, who was murdered by a deranged fan.)
How awful was the movie? When Mary (Sofia Coppola) gets inadvertently shot and slumps ever so slowly to her death, someone in our audience shouted at the screen, “Die already, b***h!” (Sofia earned two Razzies for Worst Supporting Actress and for Worst New Star of 1990.)
Bad as she was, Sofia underplayed her role compared to Al Pacino’s portrayal of Michael Corleone. Pacino was great in “Serpico” and “Dog Day Afternoon,” to name but a few, but in many movies he’s so over the top he eats everything in a scene, including the props. In “The Godfather Part III,”who can forget the kitchen scene when Michael anguishes, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” That, dear readers, is exactly how I feel whenever I read about George W. Bush.
Given the historic damage the Bush administration inflicted here and abroad, it amazes me “W” shows his face in public. On his watch on 9/11 we suffered the worst intelligence failure in history, which led to the greatest attack on the continental United States since the War of 1812 when the White House was burned by the British in 1814.
Bush followed the World Trade Center attacks by invading Iraq, possibly the worst foreign policy blunder in history, and in 2008 he presided over the greatest financial crash since the 1929 Depression. And those are just but a few of the vast low lights of the Bush regime. (That said, W. showed tremendous reflexes adeptly dodging shoes thrown by an angry Iraqi journalist at a Baghdad press conference.)
What “pulled me back in” this time was a recent report that at a 2012 gala fundraiser for wounded veterans, Bush was paid a $100,000 speaker’s fee. (Plus $20,000 for a private jet, and $50,000 for Laura to speak the following year.)
I’m painfully aware of the Clintons’ exorbitant speaking fees. But to specifically profit off wounded warriors, whose wounds were inflicted in a tragically ill-fated war you orchestrated, seems beyond obscene. Wouldn’t it be the humane, decent thing to do for Bush to have waived his fee altogether? Instead, Bush bragged that he normally gets $150,000 to $200,000, so he was actually cutting the wounded warriors a break. Good grief!
The Bush administration was such a colossal failure that if this were Japan there wouldn’t have been enough hara-kiri knives to have gone around. Frankly, Bush should have been hauled before the World Court. Now he plays golf all day or paints cats and charges $200,000 speaking fees without a care in the world.
Upon leaving office, Bushreflected on his eight years in the White House with 5,000 dead GIs and 30,000 wounded, “Laura and I had the time of our life.” Whereas Johnson and Nixon, plagued by U.S. casualties during the Vietnam War, Bush slept like a baby. And Dick Cheney, aka Darth Vader, says he’d do it all over again. “In a New York minute,” including, “enhanced interrogation.” (How’s that for an Orwellian term?)
So much for Bush, now for the GOP. Recently, Obama took steps to normalize relations with Cuba after 60 years of a failed embargo policy. But GOP leaders in the Senate are promising they will thwart any nominee of an ambassador to Cuba. When Nixon opened up China did Democrats block his efforts?
This brings me to the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. I’m certainly no expert, but it’s ironic that the people who scream the loudest about evil Iran are the same ones who were cheerleaders for the Iraq War, which vaulted Iran into the dominant power in the region. (They also seem to have forgotten that their beloved Ronald Reagan actually gave weapons to the Iranians.) As for the nuclear deal, the document is 100 pages and, given my ADD, I’m waiting for the video.
In conclusion, if there were no George Bush and no Iraq War, there’d be no ISIS. And yet “W” insists, “I have no regrets about Iraq.” As for Pacino, if he ever reads this, I suppose he’d be within his rights to quip, “Neworth’s so over the top, he hams up every paragraph and even the punctuation.”
Jack Neworth is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and firstname.lastname@example.org.