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President Bush: The New ‘Dark Lord’?

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Well I heard the hype and saw the movie. Now it’s time for me to weigh in on the “President Bush as Darth Vader” debate.

When I heard the original accusation made from an article linked to the pages of The Drudge Report, I laughed. President Bush has been compared to a whole slew of historical evildoers, especially in the past couple of years. In quite a few cases, I’ve heard and read opinion commentary from frothy-mouthed liberals claiming he was WORSE than most of those evil historical figures.

But to compare President Bush with Darth Vader? That just drives home the contention I’ve been making for some time now that the hard left really has lost its collective marbles. Either that or they’re REALLY REALLY desperate for some new material. I just have this vision in my head of a bunch of folks from Moveon.org sitting in a meeting, desperate to figure out who or what NEXT to compare the President to…

DESPERATE RADICAL #1: “How about we compare Bush to Cain who killed his brother Abel out of jealousy?”

DESPERATE RADICAL #2: “Don’t be a dumb&%#! That’s a religious theme, and worse, a judeo-christian one! We hate judeo-christian philosophy more than we hate the President!!!”

DESPERATE RADICAL #1: “Oh yeah, right. Forgot that… Sorry!”

DESPERATE RADICAL LEADER: “The fact is, my friends, we’ve been so busy comparing the President to every reviled historical figure we can think of, we may have run out of reasonable non judeo-christian choices. We need a person or a figure that is well known on an international scale and who is seen universally as ‘the bad guy.’ We have to come up with someone new soon or Soros will cut off our funding!”

DESPERATE RADICAL #1: (Having tuned his boss and group members out out in favor of the local newspaper) “Hey, anyone want to go see the new Star Wars: Revenge of The Sith flick this weekend? I hear that we get to see how Anakin becomes Darth Vader! ”

DESPERATE RADICAL LEADER: “What did you just say?”

And the rest, as they say, was history.
But, seriously, this gets worse (or better, depending upon your perspective). Some have even mentioned that Lucas might have updated some of the scripts to take some potshots at President Bush and to give the movie overall more of an anti-Bush feel.

After seeing the movie, do I think it’s true? I don’t know and I’m not sure I even care.

In my mind, Lucas is doing what so many other producers, directors, and actors are doing; trying to influence the culture in what they deem to be a positive manner. Is it a bad thing to want to place democracy in a good light and offer up warnings as to what can happen to democratic institutions when they give one person or group too much power?

Absolutely not. It’s a good message in fact; and a VERY conservative message to boot!

I think any movie which makes Americans more cautious in terms of the power it grants to their government is a good movie. Our entire system was built with the assumption that government is inherently power-seeking and, therefore, dangerous.

We have a system of checks and balances in this country for a reason… To make sure that no one part of our government ever becomes too powerful. And you had better believe that any government, or any BRANCH of government, for that matter, will eventually grow too powerful if left unchecked.

In the end, it is the American people who have to serve as the ultimate check on government power. Should “we the people” serve our government, or should our government serve us? How much or little should a government do? How much or little CAN a government do?

So, what does any of this have to do with George Lucas who may or may not be comparing President Bush to Darth Vader?

Mainly that it is true that our government could potentially overreach it’s power and authority if we let it happen. At the same time, let’s be reasonable. And, while we’re at it, can we also be a bit more civil?

After all, even if Lucas did not intend to compare Vader and President Bush, many liberals have, and that is just silly to the extreme. Are you really so angry and desperate that you have to compare the President to a movie character? If so, maybe you should wait until the new movie The Fantastic Four comes out, then you can compare the President to the character “Dr. Doom.”

As for my take on the movie’s possible slant? As I said earlier, I’m not sure.

I will say this; if there is ONE line in the whole movie that MIGHT be a slap at the President, it would be the line uttered by Obi Wan towards the very end of the movie. He and Anakin are preparing to do battle with one another and Anakin utters this oft-quoted line: “If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy.”

For me, this wasn’t a key line. I’ve heard that same line (or something like it) uttered a thousand times in movies and on television over the years. What made me laugh was the response by Obi Wan: “Only a Sith thinks in absolutes”; at which point, Obi Wan draws his light sabre and prepares to do battle with Anakin the evil absolutist.

I laughed for two reasons. First of all, because, it seemed to me to be a very thinly veiled slap at conservatism in general, if not the President in particular. Liberals love to accuse conservatives of couching our beliefs in terms of moral absolutes, ignoring the grayish nuances of life.

Secondly, I laughed because Obi Wan’s reply was one to make any absolutist proud. As a matter of fact, Obi Wan’s reply was more absolutist in nature than Anakin’s original statment!

Think about it… Anakin makes a very simple statement, not about life in general, but to Obi Wan in particular. “If you are not with me,” he says to his master, “then you are my enemy.” Very clear declaration of intent, don’t you think? “Join me or we duke it out right here,” is Anakin’s message.

So, what does Obi Wan do? Comes back with a univeral principle of his own, but one which is even more absolute than Anakin’s. “Only a Sith thinks in absolutes,” replies Obi Wan. With one sentence, Obi Wan passes judgement, not only on all Siths every where (terribly racist thinking, don’t you agree?), but also on anyone who thinks LIKE a Sith. What Obi Wan is saying is basically, “all Siths think in absolutes and anyone who thinks in absolutes is ‘Sith-like.'”

Wow! A little heavy on the judgementalism, don’t you think? Of course, I’m used to that kind of hypocritical thinking, especially from Hollywood elites. Did it never occur to Lucas, or anyone else making this movie for that matter, to consider the fact that a judgement of any kind requires an assumption of truth?

Apparently not.

But this post has gone on long enough. Let me just end it by stating that I enjoyed Revenge of The Sith, but not as much as I had hoped. And it had nothing to do with supposed political messages; I’ve already told you why I have no problem with those kinds of messages. Rather, it was just an average Scifi epic. It had some very bright moments and some not-so-bright moments.

The Star Wars movies as a whole are incredible, and everyone who loves the genre should see them. But they are not epic on the scale of, say, The Lord of The Rings, I’ll always love the Star Wars series and I hope that Lucas changes his mind and does the last three pics (episodes 7, 8, and 9). At the same time, I remain strangely dissatified with these latest three pictures. Perhaps Lucas got just a bit too nuanced for this second trilogy? Yes, life is more gray than black and white, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy escaping it now and then.

David Flanagan

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  • I think it all comes down to POV, as it were. During the opera scene, Anakin says something like, “The Sith are evil.” To which the Chancellor responds with something like, “Good and evil are a point of view.”

    Then, during the battle on Mustafar, Obi-Wan decrees, “Anakin, Palpatine is evil!” To which Anakin shouts back, “From my point of view the Jedi are evil!”

    However, in ‘A New Hope,’ an older Obi-Wan tells Luke that Darth Vader betrayed and murdered his father, only to clarify that statement in ‘Return of the Jedi,’ where, as force ghost, he says, “So what I told was true, from a certain point of view.” To which Luke responds, “From a certain point of view!?!” To which the force ghost of Obi-Wan states, “Luke, you’ll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

    Obi-Wan, both young and old, is one of my favorite characters. I guess it was interesting for me to see him evolve from “only a Sith deals in absolutes” and “Palpatine is evil” to “What I told you was true, from a certain point of view” and “You’ll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

  • If President Bush is Darth Vader, then does that make the Taliban and Al Qaeda into Jedi?

  • David…

    i did NOT use Vader to DEFINE “competent”…instead i used the adjective to describe a difference between the two that made the comparison ludacris…

    example: Vader’s military Intelligence was accurate, when errors occured, the offending party was held accountable and punished (“I find your lack of Faith, disturbing”)

    Vader’s planning of military Operations was complete and well thought out, using overwhenlming force to achieve presicely the well defined Goals he had before him

    Vader was an “A” student in each of his Incarnations

    Vader could actually work hard and fix things as a youth, young Jedi

    Vader’s military service (as Anakin) was active duty in a shooting military conflict

    on and on…

    that’s why comparing the two is just silly..

    nuff said?


  • Like I said, its a chicken or egg thing but the comparisons I saw started with the release of the book. I have no link for you but I accept it that it began as a left thing from Cannes.

    Howveer, I am speaking more abuot the respnose from the right. Instead of saying how ridiculous the comparison is, they are bashing Lucas, implying that the comparison is correct. This is a little troubling coming from the man’s own supporters.

    You use the “Lucas wouldn’t do that” defense, which I think is just as troubling, if it came from a Bush supporter which I don’t know if you are or not.

    The point is trashing Lucas is buying into the comparison, whatever side you’re on.

  • JR

    Comparing Bush to Darth Vader?

    No child left behind takes on a whole new meaning.

  • Nancy

    Next thing we know, W will be running around flailing a plastic lightsaber and ranting about “…from a certain point of view…”. Comparing Bush to Darth Vader? Oh, PLEEZE: I loathe Bush, but I wouldn’t compare the two; Bush & Jar Jar Binks, maybe, but Vader? Nah.

  • Gonzo,

    Darth Vader your definition of “competent?”


  • gonzo marx

    whoever made the comparison is just too silly for words..

    after all, for whatever you want to say about him..for or against

    Darth Vader was competent

    nuff said?


  • Convex,

    I understand your point though I disagree. For me, it seemed quite ridiculous that the left would even come up with such a ridiculous comparison.

    And I first heard of these comparisons from reports coming out of the MSM related to the movie’s airing at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15. Here is an excerpt and a link for context:

    Cannes audiences made blunt comparisons between “Revenge of the Sith,” the story of Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side and the rise of an emperor through warmongering, to President Bush’s war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq.

    Two lines from the movie especially resonated:

    “This is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause,” bemoans Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) as the galactic Senate cheers dictator-in-waiting Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) while he announces a crusade against the Jedi.

    “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy,” Hayden Christensen’s Anakin (soon to become villain Darth Vader) tells former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The line echoes Mr. Bush’s international ultimatum after the Sept. 11 attacks, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

    “That quote is almost a perfect citation of Bush,” said Liam Engle, a 23-year-old French-American aspiring filmmaker. “Plus, you’ve got a politician trying to increase his power to wage a phony war.”

    Though the plot was written years ago, “the anti-Bush diatribe is clearly there,” Engle said.



  • Oh, and I read about it on right-wing blog sites before the movie came out. That doesn’t necessarily mean the chicken came before the egg but I’m just being clear.

  • Yes, agreed, either side doing it is silly.

    However, if the opposing side does it it means they think of the pres as this person (sith lord), funny enough if the other side does it they think the same!

    In other words, in my mind, if the right is blasting Lucas for taking shots at Bush that’s equivalent to equating Bush with the Sith in *their* minds.

    Do you see what I mean?

    By buying into this theory, on either side, you have to believe that Bush is subverting democracy and all the other evil things – since Lucas did not come out and say it was about Bush.

    Instead of bashing Lucas, the right should be saying how ridiculous the theory is (like you just did) but because Bush *isn’t* like that not that they can’t believe Lucas would do it. Instead many of them *are* bashing Lucas and basically giving the theory merit.

  • Convex,

    I actually first heard of the controversy from the MSM which had been covering the banter emerging from the movie’s screening in which liberals were saying that the movie was offering some comparisons between Darth Vader and the President. From there, however, right wing sites did take up the argument, some of which were in tones of outrage.

    I could never bring myself to be outraged; either because I’m used to hearing such things or because I’m not offended by a message that cautions us on the issue of government power.

    Or maybe it’s just because I think that drawing a link between the two is incredibly silly bordering on childishness. I still have trouble imagining Lucas rewriting scripts to critique the President. I just don’t think he did it, though, it could be the case.



  • I have to admit that the first time I’ve heard it was from some ridiculous right-wing websites blasting Lucas as a liberal. I think you got your wings mixed up.

    Funny take on Obi Wan being absolutist though.