The most remarkable thing about "The American President," a movie based on the book by John Grisham, is how believable it is. The story is not fiction; it is factual. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have the perfect leadership skills and intellect for running a successful administration, even if they do not always use them. And as their team members, they often let their emotions and lack of experience to get the better of them.
After years of underachievement at a New York City school, a Long Island school board and its principal are credited with creating unparalleled prestige for the district. Frank, a master at positive communication, is also a master at political rhetoric, whether in a classroom or on an airplane with a concerned parent or community leader. That changes, however, when a young reporter unearths a vast embezzlement plot of epic proportions involving the school principal, prompting Frank to come up with an ingenious cover-up. When the president learns that something has gone wrong, he decides that he must take action, but the vice president insists that he take the matter into his own hands. And when the president refuses to believe that his administration can do anything right, Dick Cheney comes in to back the president's decision, and the president becomes a changed man.
This is the real tragedy of the Iraq war: Not only does it present a grave threat to our nation, but a bad education will make the country vulnerable. But if we can learn from the experience of the good guys and the bad guys, we may find that we can avoid this kind of disaster in the future. Our youth deserve a better start in life than this.
The movie "The American President" is a masterpiece of the cinema and deservedly won eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Its success is also an indicator that our educational system has some problems that need to be worked on and fixed. It was one thing to teach about the Vietnam War in school and quite another to teach students to be honest, responsible adults who can run our government in a responsible fashion.
Perhaps, we have moved so far away from the teachings of John Grisham, but the lessons of his book are still relevant today. In an age when everything seems too easy and we are so focused on the superficial, we are not ready to consider the more difficult tasks in life. We have become so comfortable with our own little world that we forget that it is not like our toys.
The lesson of "The American President" is that the way to change is not always to change the structure of our schools, but to change ourselves. We need to work on our character, and learn to live with integrity and responsibility.