“Dave” is one of my favorite “political” movies, ever. Political is in non-scary scare quotes (hey, Halloween’s over; on with your boring, humdrum lives…) since it is clear that “Dave” is not meant to be taken as a serious statement on politics. Anyway, it dates from 1993, the first year of Bill Clinton’s first term — before we realized the truth about Mr. and Mrs. President.
Well, Dave Kovic really does feel your pain in the movie. The Kevin Kline character (Kovic) runs a temp agency, and Dave makes it his noble goal to make sure that everyone who wants a job finds one. Even when, as in a scene from the movie’s beginning, the prospective employer can’t afford to pay for another worker. Economics be damned; that’s real compassion.
Well, in this fun fantasy, Dave Kovic is a dead ringer for the soon-to-be dead president. So, he’s basically kidnapped on the orders of Bob Alexander, the president’s mean-spirited Karl Rove (so Donks might wish), Bob Alexander, played just right by Frank Langella. Well, Dave’s a good guy, as defined by Hollywood. As the stand-in president, he saves a homeless shelter, and then goes completely ape and announces a jobs program whereby any American who wants a job should have one.
Even Hillary would not dream so large. But then, “Dave” is a fantasy, and, I trust, was not taken too seriously — then, or now. Oh, just in case I didn’t mention it, although it isn’t stated in so many words, the nasty president that Dave Kovic doubles for is almost certainly a budget-balancing Republican. You know, balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, yadda yadda yadda. Hey, it is a Hollywood production, after all.
But here’s the serious thing that I’d like all hard-hearted, budget-balancing, green-eyeshade-wearing folks to reflect on: it’s when Dave as president waxes about the simple yet profound human dignity of someone who has, finally, found a job, and done a decent day’s work for wages. Anyone who has ever been out of work, or even only threatened with being out of work, knows this feeling. I do.
Yes, I know. Businesses can’t stay in business if they simply pay people for showing up and it has no positive effect on the bottom line. But it’s usually not that simple. There’s all sorts of things that can be adjusted. Perhaps the CEO cuts his salary by a few million? Perhaps the school district finds a way to make do without repainting the teachers’ lounges? And on, and on…there’s always ways to save.
The message? More like a question than a sermon. What price should we put on human dignity? Does everything in life have to be reflected in a set of balanced books? Perhaps I’m getting soft in my old age, but if we can afford millions for a useless bridge to nowhere in Alaska, not to mention billions for useless pork and a lot of corporate welfare, surely there’s something we can reprogram in the name of human dignity?