I saw "Charlie Wilson's War" last night in Harvard Square and it was not what I had expected it to be. It was written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, directed by Mike Nichols (how many great movies has he directed?), starred in by Tom Hanks and truly starred in by Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman. With these names, frankly, I suspected the movie would be, well, clever and spiffy. But politically smart? No. It actually is. And it's not a feel-good liberal track. Or tract.
It is about how a slick Democratic congressman from Texas--more than a bit unsavory--is linked in various ways with a right-wing Houston millionairess, who also very much believes in the Christian God, in a plan for the U.S. to arm the Muslim rebels against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. It's a true story. As Max Boot points out in a very sharp post on Contentions, Commentary's blog, there are facts left out: like Ronald Reagan's passion for the cause. But more than the essence is there.
The essence is summed up in a three sentence peroration by Congressman Wilson (Hanks):
"These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world. Then we fucked up the endgame."
And we did.