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The Hunting Of The President Review


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It would have been nice if the documentary The Hunting of the President had been made in the late 1990s, when the country was in the throes of Monicagate, Whitewatergate, Troopergate and an endless flood of Clinton jokes, but in some sense it's best to have this film released now, so we can look back from a time of actual crisis (war, faltering economy), chastised, and see just how much time we as a country wasted. Adapted from the book of the same title by Gene Lyons and Salon.com columnist Joe Conason, the film means to lay out the how and the why of what Hilary Clinton famously called "the vast right-wing conspiracy" to bring down her husband by any means necessary. About the only thing not proven here is that it was vast. There was a conspiracy (can you call it that if nobody's bothering to keep it a secret?) to bring Clinton down, but it emanated from a fairly small cabal of Republican millionaires and ideologues who had the money and the venom necessary to do whatever it took to try and depose the sitting president.

As filmmakers, the team of Nickolas Perry and Harry Thomason (longtime Clinton allies) have some learning to do - Rule #1: interspersing your talking-heads with nonsensical stock footage for comic relief gets old fast - but their connections with Bill served them well. There's a steady stream of A-list commentators, from usual suspects like James Carville and Paul Begala, including media icons like the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz and The New Yorker's Jeffery Toobin, and even some unexpected ones like Jerry Falwell - basically there to say he doesn't agrees or disagree with a popular documentary his TV show aired which claimed Clinton was a murderer and drug smuggler - who lay out, in sometimes excruciating detail, how the right-wing fringe went after the president, and the lives they ruined along the way.

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