Lee Atwater, Boogie Man

(George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)


Boogie Man

Genre: Documentary; Director: Stefan Forbes; Author: Stefan Forbes; Runtime (in minutes): 86; MPAA Rating: Unrated

If you want to hear juicy inside tales of the scams devised by Lee Atwater, the right-wing visionary of media-age dirty tricks, you’ll find loads of them in Boogie Man. Stefan Forbes’ incisive portrait of the late, infamous Republican consultant is a chronicle of how the culture ? war took over American politics. ? As such, it could scarcely be more timely. (Karl Rove was Atwater’s protégé.) Atwater, who relished playing rock & blues guitar almost as much as he loved slinging mud, had his first dark victory in 1978, when he smeared Max Heller — a Holocaust survivor running for U.S. Congress — with a campaign that claimed Heller didn’t believe in the Lord. After that, there was Willie Horton, Whitewater — the hits kept coming. In terrific clips, we see the scampish gleam of mischief that shot out of Atwater’s steely eyes, giving him the look of a honky-tonk Daniel Craig. His great strategy, and legacy, was the art of lying out in the open. He saw that character assassination invades media like an airborne virus — that even a lie can become its own ”truth.” B+

Originally posted September 19 2008 — 12:00 AM EDT

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