Washington Paved With Platinum

The Distinguished Gentleman and the U.S. body politic.

The 2018 government shut-down which spilled over to 2019; preparation for the 2020 presidential election; and comments from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who represents New York’s 14th congressional district, prompted revisiting this movie.
Hollywood gave The Distinguished Gentleman the comedy label but, director Jonathan Lynn shot scenes about real life voting; how politicians raise money for their campaigns; and the maze of rules and procedures that govern how Congress allocates money to do things the government is supposed to do. 
Two con artists play political jump rope. Thomas Jefferson, Eddie Murphy’s character learnt the trade on Florida streets whereas Dick Dodge, Lane Smith’s character is a con artist working under the leafy shade of the U.S. Constitution and chairs a super rich committee on the Hill.

Jefferson “Jeff Johnson” is a rookie congressman who used a dead man’s identity to get elected, after his aunt related a story of how people voted for a dead man because it was the name they were used to.  Chairman Dick Dodge admired Jefferson for successfully pulling off the name recognition thing.
Barack Obama, in his book The Audacity of Hope maintains that it is responsible for the high re-election rate for the House of Representatives.

“In today’s interconnected world, it is difficult to penetrate the consciousness of a busy and distracted electorate. As a result, winning in politics mainly comes down to a simple matter of name recognition.”  Page 103.
“Jeff Johnson” the rookie congressman and Chairman Dodge hit it off very quickly because they are both in Washington for money and nothing else.  Jefferson learns that big business funds political campaigns for future favours, after politicians have won elections.  You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours.

All is well until Jefferson falls in love with a woman lobbying against power/electricity lines.  It is only a movie, but rookie congressmen and congresswomen like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, can learn a thing or two about how the government apparatus they have just joined, works, the committee system in particular.

By:  Nonqaba waka Msimang.


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