A while ago, I made plans to watch Godfather I and II. I had bought my tickets, forgetting that the VP debate was on the same night. After watching the movie, I came to the conclusion that I made the right decision. The Godfather is more politically relevant to this year’s election than the VP debate was, and here’s why.
In many ways, running a county is similar to running a crime family. The head of crime family is responsible for several factors, making money, building cohesive organizations and relationships, violent or non-violent with other crime families. Similarly, Presidents are responsible for building cohesive organizations, and building their country’s economies and foreign policy. In the movie, Michael Corleone famously told Kay that his father was just like a Senator or a businessman. Kay replied “Oh Michael, you’re so naïve, senators and business men don’t have men killed,” to which Michael responded, “Now Kay, who’s being naïve.”
Both Obama and McCain have listed The Godfather as their favorite movie. In many ways Obama is Michael: the cool, collected, calculating intelligent leader. McCain on the other hand is Sonny: rash, impulsive, and ready for war at the drop of a hat.
The manner that Michael, Sonny, and Vito dealt with the other five families is similar to foreign policy dealings. Unlike McCain, Obama is willing to meet with leaders of hostile countries. One of the lessons of the Godfather was to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Michael Corleone was willing to meet with Hyman Roth, after Roth tried to have him killed and Vito Corleone was willing to meet and negotiate with all the members of the five families after they tried to have him assassinated and killed his son. Sonny, on the other hand, was unwilling to negotiate with other members of the Five Families, and saw war as the only response.
One thing also made clear in The Godfather is that war is bad for business, and not be rushed into. Sonny rushed into war with the Tatalias because of their tangential affiliation with Sollozzo (who tried to kill his father). Michael, on the other hand, brought the war right to the one who actually committed the offense, shooting Solozzo in the head after their meeting. The situation parallels the war on terror. While McCain and Bush quickly had their sites on Iraq after 9/11, Barack Obama and many others believed that it was Osama Bin Laden and Afghanistan that should’ve been the primary target.
What made Michael a good Don was his ability to negotiate and talk with other crime leaders, whether friend or foe, not his ability to actually go to war. Michael would avoid war at all costs, only reacting when his family was directly threatened. When Michael did utilize violence to deal with opponents, it was very carefully planned and coordinated, unlike the war in Iraq.
Sonny’s fate and lack of success as a Don was directly related to his temperamental, warmongering tendencies. While at war, the Corleone family had to endure a number of hardships and lost many of their political and business connections. Even his father, Vito, didn’t believe Sonny was a good Don. However, Vito had kind words for Tom Hagen, the family’s Consigliere, whose attitude was always negotiate first, shoot later. It was Sonny’s temper, and haste to war that eventually led to his violent downfall. Michael and Tom Hagen on the other hand, were willing to use violence with his enemies but would always use negotiations first.
Barack Obama has stated that he will use both force and negotiations to deal with enemies, while McCain would use only force, refusing to talk to enemies who don’t meet his pre-conditions. Just like Sonny criticized Michael for wanting to go kill Solozzo himself, McCain criticized Obama for wanting to go into Pakistan to get Bin Laden or other Al Qaeda members, while supporting an unecessary, unprovoked war in Iraq.
Watch Obama Talk About The Godfather
Watch Vito and Michael Corleone(Robert Deniro and Al Pacino) Endorse Obama