If you have not seen the brilliant film The Adjustment Bureau yet, I have to warn you about reading this post because I will reveal plot points to the film that might ruin your enjoyment of it. This film has my highest recommendation because I believe that the filmmaker has touched on something that gets to the heart of how our universe works. I will explain below. But first, I am going to insist that you don't read this post any further if you plan to see The Adjustment Bureau because you should have the opportunity to watch the story unfold and mesmerize you, inspiring you with new ideas, and throwing in a few plot twists. It really is a film worth seeing and discussing with someone afterwards. Its also the kind of film that might provoke a serious analysis of one's life.
Okay, you can't say you haven't been warned.
The film is about a New York Congressman on the verge of winning the Senate seat. An ill-timed tabloid scandal (what politicos call "October Surprise") dooms his chances. During his election night party, he meets a mysterious lady in the bathroom, who is hiding out from the police because she crashed a wedding in the same hotel. They strike up a conversation and the Congressman is smitten with her (who wouldn't be? Its Emily Blunt!). He's taken by her honesty. When he returns to the ballroom to give his concession speech, he starts out reading what his speechwriter probably put together. He decides to tell the truth and this candid concession speech becomes a media sensation. His state-wide profile is increased and he's considered a shoo-in for the next time the Senate seat becomes available.
Does this sound familiar? At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, in an unprecedented move, candidate John Kerry was instrumental in getting a state senator from Illinois who was merely the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat to give a keynote address during primetime coverage. This speech made Barack Obama's career. Many Americans had never heard of him before, but his speech knocked it out of the park. He spoke of there not being the red states of America or a blue states of America, but a UNITED States of America. Obama's speech was inspiring, memorable, and just what our country needed. I know for me personally, when I saw the speech live, I felt that I had just seen the face of a future president, whom I was certain would run in 2012 or 2016 and had the best shot at becoming the first African American president.
I had first heard about Barack Obama in the spring or early summer of 2004 in an article on Truthout.org, a news website that I read religiously during the Bush era. The writer, William Pitt, had mentioned that Obama represented the future of America. When I first read the article, I was confused, because I thought he was talking about either Ehud Barak, the Prime Minister of Israel or Osama bin Laden. It was such a strange name. As Obama himself pointed out in his famous speech, his father was from Kenya and his mother was from Kansas, and no where else in the world was it possible that a "skinny kid with a funny name" would have a shot at politics. His is a quintessential American story.
The name "Barack" supposedly means "Blessed by God" in Swahili. He carries the namesake of his father. Even more ironic, his middle name is the unfortunate "Hussein", which to Americans is associated with the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein, though its considered the "Smith" of the Arab world. As the media often pointed out, King Hussein of Jordan was not related to the Butcher of Baghdad.
Anyhow, if you look into Obama's meteoric rise in politics, its hard not to see the blessings in his life. So many of his opponents for political office were done in by their own outrageousness, the most famous being a man named Jack Ryan who had been married to the actress Jeri Ryan of Star Trek's Deep Space Nine, where she played a Borg named Seven of Nine. During the summer of 2004, Ryan's Senate campaign collapsed after the divorce record became public and it was revealed that the reason for the divorce was that Jack had forced Jeri to go to sex clubs in Paris and when she cried about his wanting her to perform oral sex on him in front of other people at the club, his response was: "It's not a turn-on when you cry."
After that, Ryan was out and the desperate Republican Party in Illinois recruited a carpet bagger named Alan Keyes, who lived in Maryland, to run against Obama for the U.S. Senate seat. Never mind that Keyes had heavily criticized Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate seat in New York as "carpetbagging." Keyes is not taken seriously by anyone except the most rabid right, so there was no chance that he could beat the charismatic Obama. Opponents who go up against Obama (even Democratic candidates in the primary) have a tendency to implode. We saw this in the 2008 election cycle, when he fought Hillary Clinton in state battle after state battle for the Democratic nomination. During the primaries, the Iraq War was the issue, which hurt Hillary's chances because she had voted for Bush's War resolution in 2002 and refused to say that the vote was wrong. Since Obama was not in the Senate at the time, he was able to run as the anti-war candidate since he had voted against the war resolution in the state legislature of Illinois.
After he won the nomination, the American economy collapsed, which made John McCain look clueless because he had said mere days before the collapse that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong." I've read an article a few years back that mentioned Obama's stroke of luck. Had the economy tanked during the primaries, Hillary Clinton would have likely won because Democratic voters would have viewed her as more credible or experienced regarding the economy (due in large part to her husband's excellent handling of the American economy during his tenure). Also, had the Iraq War flared up during the summer (after Obama clinched the nomination), this would have hurt Obama's chances against the veteran McCain.
Many people are wondering just where this man came from. He appeared on the scene in such a short time and was basically able to "cakewalk" to the White House and making history. How many presidents before Obama have had it that easy? Well, George W. Bush also glided his way into the White House after a mere 6 years of being governor in a state that has a Constitutionally mandated weak governor. But Obama came out of nowhere and had the fortunate luck to have hapless opponents prone to self-destructive ways or damaging voting records.
Obama's blessed life has all the markings of the Adjustment Bureau. In the film, members of the Bureau reveal that each person is fated to live life on a certain track. Anytime someone strays off track, its up to the bureau team to get the person back on track. This could come about by simple little "accidents" or delaying tactics (the next time you're stuck in a traffic jam, perhaps it was meant to be so you wouldn't get into an accident down the road). I can see how destiny might have played such a role in Obama's life to make him the right leader for our time. Think about it. Bush had so destroyed "Brand America" that hundreds of millions of people around the world absolutely hated that man and our policies. As I had heard Civil Rights icon Andrew Young explain it a few years ago, God had a brilliant plan for Obama. First, he had to put into place an incompetent president who would do such a terrible job that no one wanted to clean up his mess and the country would so want a huge change that they were willing to vote for the first black president. To do this, God would have to inspire a poor but ambitious young man in Kenya to seek a scholarship to study in America. And God would have to inspire the admittance board at the University of Hawaii to offer such a scholarship to this foreign student. Then, God would have to put Barack Obama, Sr. and Stanley Ann together so that they can fall in love and get married. Then Obama, Sr. would move on to bigger things, leaving Obama, Jr. to be raised by the white half of his family.
God would also get Obama's mother to fall in love with an Indonesian man and move her son to the world's most populous Muslim country. As Andrew Young explained, Obama is definitely the right president for this time because so many people around the world want to claim him: his Kenyan family and the entire nation as a whole, the entire continent of Africa, the people of Indonesia and the Muslims who like his name and background. This is all good for restoring "Brand America." An article I had read a few months ago about the reasons for the uprising in Egypt mentioned Obama's speech on religion in Cairo, which inspired people in the Middle East that this was a new kind of president. Apparently, the young people of Egypt began to wonder why Americans got to vote for a new president every four years while they were stuck under the same brutal regime all their lives.
What many Americans seem incapable of realizing is that the fact that we elected a member of the minority race as our president is exactly the kind of "only in America" sense of awe that foreigners love about our country. Obama represented a huge change and many people were inspired by his positive campaign and vision. So yes, I do think that Obama was destined to be president. That no Republicans so far have been willing to throw their hat into the presidential ring for 2012 even as they continue to make the most outrageous allegations against him to appeal to the rabid right that forms the base of the Republican Party is just one more sign of Obama being "blessed" or "favoured" by "the gods" (or God).
I believe another politician also has the blessings of fate. That would be:
Senator Scott Brown. I believe he is currently being groomed to be the next president (in 2016). He is far and away the most likable Republican politician and if you've ever seen any interviews with him, he comes across as reasonable, presidential, and likable. He has a healthy sense of humour and an incredibly compelling personal narrative (read his autobiography Against All Odds). He has all the qualities that the Republican Party is looking for in a dream candidate but failing to find with the lackluster ones flirting with a run in 2012. The reason why he doesn't throw his hat in the ring for 2012 is because he only got elected to Senator Ted Kennedy's seat a year and a few months ago and is up for election to a full six year term in 2012. I personally believe that the powers that be in our society have guaranteed Obama two terms and then will do everything in their power to influence Americans to support and vote for Senator Scott Brown. You can thank the earthly version of the Adjustment Bureau. The fates favour these two politicians, because both have had a pretty easy path to their current positions.
There are a few key scenes in The Adjustment Bureau where the team members explain to the character (and indirectly to the audience) just why its important for him to follow the script life has for him. As we've seen in our politics, though, some politicians that seem destined for greater things (i.e. President) end up committing incredibly self-destructive acts (Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Governor George Allen of Virginia, Senator John Edwards, Senator John Ensign, and Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York have all been predicted to be potential presidential material until each of them committed fatal errors, most involving another woman and one because of an ethnic slur caught on camera). I sincerely hope that President Barack Obama and Senator Scott Brown will stay true to their inner calling and allow the Adjustment Bureau to guide them through their destiny. The world needs authentic leaders to serve humanity and the evolution of human civilization.