Source:The Daily Review
I saw The Frontrunner not this Saturday, but the previous Saturday in Silver Spring, Maryland because I wanted to see it obviously, ( no, I was kidnapped and forced to watch it ) but because of the subject matter. I was 11 years old and in the 5th grade in Bethesda, Maryland in the spring and early summer of 1987. Gary Hart’s presidential campaign for 1988 was so short that I’m not sure it even made it to the summer of 87, at least officially. It made Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign look like a Breaking Bad marathon on AMC. You would have to be familiar with her very brief presidential campaign, as well as Breaking Bad and AMC to get that reference, but it was very short.
So, when Senator Gary Hart was running for president in 1984 and 88, I was a very young kid and don’t remember much about his two campaigns. Both were fairly short, but at least for 84 Senator Hart made to January before falling out after finishing third, ( I believe in Iowa ) but going into 87 Democrats knew that they weren’t going to have to run against President Ronald Reagan again and the Reagan Administration had the Iran Contra scandal hanging over his head with a Democratic Congress in charge of it since they now controlled both the House and Senate and that those investigations could hurt both President Reagan and then Vice President George H.W. Bush, especially since George Bush was not only the Vice President, but was considered the Republican frontrunner for the 1988 campaign.
Gary Hart, was as very talented politician, as well as a very intelligent man both in foreign affairs and national security policy, but domestic policy as well. He was compared with John F. Kennedy for good reasons. He was very bright, good looking, and also had a tendency to tell people what he believed and what was on his mind. Very similar to Senator Joe Biden who also ran for President that year. He also had an ability to talk about serious and complicated issues, but do it in a way where you didn’t believe you needed a Russian or Chinese translator to translate what he was saying. He had a very common touch not that different from Bill Clinton, Ron Reagan, or even George W. Bush. And if his 1987-88 presidential campaign was about what he wanted to be about which was new ideas and time for a new generation, instead of what it became about, maybe he not only wins the 1988 Democratic nomination for President, but defeats Vice President Bush as well.
Which is my lead in to what The Frontrunner is about with actor Hugh Jackman playing Senator Gary Hart. It wasn’t the media, it wasn’t The Miami or The Washington Post, or NBC News that brought down Gary Hart. Only Gary Hart with his extra marital affair and his political suicidal mistake of daring the media to follow him around to see that he wasn’t having an affair. There were rumors going into 1987 that Senator Hart was a bit of playboy who cheated on his wife which was before he even meet Donna Rice the woman he had a brief affair with in the late spring or early summer of 87. And Hart was tired of getting those questions and truly believed that they were none of the media’s or the American people’s business what kind of relationship that he had with his wife and other women.
Gary Hart, perhaps in a split moment lost his cool at a local diner on one of his campaign stops having lunch with a Washington Post reporter and dared the media to follow him around to see if he was having an affair or not and that’s exactly what they did. That’s how they got pictures of him with Donna Rice on a boat together in Miami. As well as pictures of them together at his Georgetown townhouse in Washington. Because he invited the media to follow him around and didn’t just shoot himself in the foot politically, but shot his whole foot off and perhaps his brain and heart as well. Thanks to 1987, Gary Hart has never ran for political again and has never even served a Democratic President again.
As far as the movie, other than not looking much if at all like Senator Gary Hart, I believe Hugh Jackman did a great job of playing him. But I believe the people who played the reporters and the media officials were the real stars of the movie. As well as Senator Hart’s campaign staff including J.K. Simmons especially. Gary Hart, comes as naive when it comes to how the media reports on these stories about politicians and candidates and their relationships with women. Which is how Hart should’ve been portrayed because in real-life he wasn’t expecting the media to cover his affairs, just the substance of his campaign. Which of course is not how the real world in politics works.