Lawmakers Should Stay Out of Oscar Politicking

Congress shouldn't be admonishing the Zero Dark Thirty production team for portraying torture, but focusing on passing a budget.

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In this undated publicity photo released by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., Jessica Chastain, center, plays a member of the elite team of spies and military operatives, stationed in a covert base overseas, with Christopher Stanley, left, and Alex Corbet Burcher, right, who secretly devote themselves to finding Osama Bin Laden in Columbia Pictures' new thriller, "ZeroDarkThirty." Best-picture prospects for Oscar Nominations on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, include, Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg; ZeroDarkThirty, directed by Kathryn Bigelow; Les Miserables, directed by Tom Hooper; Argo, directed by Ben Affleck; Django Unchained, directed by Quentin Tarantino; and Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee.

The Oscars are a great American tradition filled with pomp, circumstance, intrigue, and … politics. And not the kind of politicking done by Harvey Weinstein on behalf of his movies and actors either.

This year we saw real politics play a role as Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty all inspired political discussion and, in the case of Zero Dark Thirty, received undeserved ire of the self-important lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin and John McCain wrote a scathing letter to the team behind Zero Dark Thirty excoriating the movie for—gasp—suggesting that enhanced interrogation techniques may have led to information about location of Osama Bin Laden. I was a proud part of the John McCain–Sarah Palin 2008 presidential campaign and respect Senator McCain immensely, but this I cannot agree with.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

First, this is a ludicrous overreach of power by the esteemed senators. Sadly, it seems that in D.C. the notion of limited federal government has about as much strength left as James Franco's chances of ever hosting the Oscars again.

Second, the phrase "waste of time" applies so perfectly to this effort by the senators that it should have been watermarked on the letter. The United States of America is staring at issues such as $16.5 trillion dollar debt, no passed federal budget since 2009, a continued war on terror, and a lackluster education system. Now ask yourself, should our country's senators take the time to write letters to movie studios claiming that a fiction film may contain… fiction? No!

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

Third, how can anyone believe that enhanced interrogation techniques have not helped in the war on terror? There is a reason President Obama has largely continued the exact security policies of President George W. Bush he bashed in the 2008 presidential campaign—they work. It is pointless to continue pretending that torture of this country's enemies has played no role in keeping our country safe since 9/11.

Big congratulations to Argo for winning the Best Picture, it is a good movie and Jimmy Carter was rooting for it. President Carter needed a win pretty badly with that grudge he has been holding against Republicans, Democrats, Israel, rabbits, the Western world, etc., etc.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

However, I sure hope that the anti-Zero Dark Thirty lobbying out of D.C. did not play a role in killing the film's Oscar chances.

Finally, with the Oscars now safely behind them, and Zero Dark Thirty completely shunned by the Academy, it would be great to see the senators be as successful at something a little bit more useful—like passing a budget.

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