Secret Honor is overindulgent, maddening, and while it references real people and events, it’s pure fiction.
As the sun sets on George Bush’s presidency I am sure some people hope that Bush will look back upon his legacy and fall to piece as he confronts the mess that lays in his wake. The vision of a drunken Bush wrestling with demons of his own creation and the guilt of eight years of lies, corruption, and mismanagement is like a Democrat’s fantasy, one made of pure schadenfreude. Robert Altman‘s filming of Philip Baker Hall‘s one man performance could serve a template for a a film about GW’s day (or night) of self-realization. Hall, who looks nothing like Tricky Dick, plays a drunken Nixon, railing at his enemies and ghosts as tape recorders and video cameras capture the meltdown of a former President defrocked and derailed not by his own lust for power but merely a pawn of more powerful men; a simple man trying live out the American dream.
The video cameras, the booze, the gun, the cursing at political demons and crying out to his Quaker mother. It’s all too much and it’s all too perfect, like the wet dream of some liberal fly watching as one of America’s most notorious President’s slosh about in a shitpile of his own making. It’s no wonder this film is sometimes referred to as Secret Honor: A Political Myth.
Of course, this is not to say that the film is not wonderfully enjoyable for those who love to watch a human car wreck. I, however, having no love for Nixon, find this sort of filmmaking to be a tab bit disturbing. While it attempts to present a man coming to terms with his demons, it also take great, guilty pleasure in watching him suffer.