Jeff Jacoby

As with other kinds of porn, even the most graphic expressions of Bush-hatred tend to jade those who gorge on it, so that they crave ever more explicit material to achieve the same effect.

Which brings us to "Death of a President," a new movie about the assassination of George W. Bush.

Written and directed by British filmmaker Gabriel Range, the movie premieres this week at the Toronto Film Festival and will air next month on Britain's Channel 4. Shot in the style of a documentary, it opens with what looks like actual footage of Bush being gunned down by a sniper as he leaves a Chicago hotel in October 2007. Through the use of digital special effects, the film superimposes the president's face onto the body of the actor playing him, so that the mortally wounded man collapsing on the screen will seem, all too vividly, to be Bush himself.

Channel 4 Television

The assassination scene from “Death of a President,” a television film whose subject is George W. Bush.

This is Bush-hatred as a snuff film. The fantasies it feeds are grotesque and obscene; to pander to such fantasies is to rip at boundary-markers that are indispensable to civilized society. That such a movie could not only be made but lionized at an international film festival is a mark not of sophistication, but of a sickness in modern life that should alarm conservatives and liberals alike.

Naturally that's not how the film's promoters see it. Noah Cowan, one of the Toronto festival's co-directors, high-mindedly describes "Death of a President" as "a classic cautionary tale." Well, yes, he says, Bush's assassination is "harrowing," but what the film is really about is "how the Patriot Act, especially, and how Bush's divisive partisanship and race-baiting has forever altered America."

I can't help wondering, though, whether some of those who see this film will take away rather a different message. John Hinckley, in his derangement, had the idea that shooting the president was the way to impress a movie star. After seeing "Death of a President," the next Hinckley may be taken with a more grandiose idea: that shooting the president is the way to *become* a movie star.


Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for Townhall.com.


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