This weekend, I watched a few documentaries. Here is my analogy for documentaries. They are kind of like cardiovascular exercise for the brain. You really don't want to do it, and it can be hard along the way, but after it is over you feel so much better.
One was produced by Netflix and was entitled "Mitt." I did skip about 5 minutes of it because I just couldn't take it but otherwise it was kind of an eyeopener about the psychology of the Romney campaign. Everything is subtle and between the lines. They let the tapes speak for themselves. I noticed that hardly anyone rated this documentary high on Netflix. At first I guessed that Netflix had a more liberal audience and did not like this highly controlled access to Mitt. And I think a lot of liberals voted it down because of the subject matter. People long for voting privileges. They try to affect things because almost all of their votes do not count under the electoral college but they guess they might influence it by voting on Netflix. But, I also think that the republicans didn't really like Mitt, don't trust the Hollywood types at Netflix, and see some of the tragedy that was Mitt Romney.
Huffington Post does an interesting article here on the documentary:
What is surprising is that after six years of following the Romneys, collecting hundreds of hours of footage, the documentarian still chose to include a random interview with a production guy at a 2008 debate, who talked about lighting adding "drama," and a nearly two-minute-long conversation between Romney and his son Tagg about whether or not the Delta terminal at LaGuardia Airport had a large food court. We're supposed to believe there wasn't anything more interesting than that lying around on the cutting room floor?I have gotten fairly cynical these days but I side with the documentarian on these choices, I remember both clearly. While the lighting guy moment was simple in pointing out the absurdity that is all presidential elections, where lighting matters. It subtlety pointed out the falseness of the situation and how Mitt handled it. It is possible to throw out moments like this for the seasoned viewer, but it still made a point. I disagree completely about the exchange with Tagg. Although, Tagg sums it up in a humorous remark about beating his father in a debate, this a crucial psychological moment. The main thing this pointed out succinctly is the lack of support Romney had from his family. Mitt is seen constantly cleaning up things up, trash on the table, trash on the floor, clearing up messes from room service. He takes care of his family. You really have to give him credit for this. However, there are never any attempts of children to help Mitt. I do not know if this is Mitt Romney's influence that makes this so or just the reliance of his family for Mitt to do everything, and I mean everything. But this is a highly revealing moment and I am sorry the Huffington Post missed this. Four years earlier, the documentary ends the first part and the first campaign with the promise from Mitt's wife that she would never go through this again in 4 years. There is no support for Mitt.
The other great moment is when the final results come in and Romney's people seem entirely reliant on Fox News to tell them the truth. Karl Rove is still fighting but the others have given it up. They also seem to have inside knowledge that Karl Rove will give it up soon, which he does. One other moment, after a debate, everyone is hushed to hear what a Fox pundit's take is on the debate. Fox News is the network the election team goes to, they are the personalities they know the best and can judge things from. I have long held that Romney's team (and I thought Romney himself, though I wonder now) was using Fox News to prep for debates, to find things to say, to basically do the work. Fox News is plain propaganda and along with twisting facts, they are not very good at researching them either. It seems their audience does not care but this does not translate to a general audience in the general election. I do not know for certain that Romney's bad advice, which he used in the second debate, about Benghazi came from Fox News but given the non-dying Benghazi obsession of Fox, I would bet it did. Romney needed to court those deluded by Fox in the primary, then switch to a general audience. The phrase Romney uses to describe the public's perception of himself is "flipping Morman." The backflips are necessary because Fox News is so far from general reality which a GOP candidate confronts just after the primaries.
Huffington Post probably wants an exposé. I wanted reality. And boring though reality can be, I got what I wanted.
The other documentaries I watched were fun. Netflix has a great choice of documentaries. I would prefer zero reality television but they do have some. Their reality TV is a bit better than the general crap floating around. But Mitt was a revealing peek at actual reality, if only you have eyes to see. The elevator moment of almost dead silence is worth the price of admission.