What would the world be like had Gary Hart not ruined his chance at being President in 1988?
How many dominoes would have fallen after that? He was being perceived as the eventual winner of the election, so how would that have affected George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W Bush, or Donald Trump. How many of those would not have been President? Would the world have course corrected? How about major world events such as 9-11 or the wars in the Middle East?
That is an interesting story that I would love to speculate on and I’d love to see a movie that took that on as a topic, but The Front Runner is not that film. It entails the true story about Gary Hart, Senator from Colorado, who was the Democratic front runner in 1988, but lost that spot when some of his extra-marital affairs came to light through the press.
Looking back at this story, it is amazing how different the political scene is in today’s world where we have a President who admitted to affairs and was even on tape claiming to grab women by the private parts. That did not derail Trump’s campaign, but 1988 was a different time.
This story is told not only through the eyes of the Democratic Presidential candidate, but also through the eyes of the journalists in the press who struggled with the idea that they were breaking this information. Again, in stark contrast to today’s news that exists on this type of sensationalism, these reporters debated about the use of this information and whether using it made them more on par with the National Enquirer, the world of tabloid journalism.
Hugh Jackman is good as Gary Hart, especially when the film shows Hart as if he were a deer in the headlights. You can tell he never once considered the possibility that his behavior outside of his marriage and the political world would affect his race and he raged against the use of the material. One wonders if he had raged against the reporters in the proper moments if he would have overcome the scandal. It is said in the film that the American public was behind him at the start.
Of course, now Gary Hart is a lesson for all politicians to learn from. I’m sure that is not the legacy Hart would have preferred.
Vera Farmiga is one of the best and most under-appreciated actresses we have working today as she never seems to fail to bring her best. I would have liked to see more of her here as Lee Hart, the put on wife of the adulterous Senator, but every scene that she appeared in was compelling.
I really believe this was a vital moment in the world of politics that changed the way things happened and that had this gone a different way, who knows what our lives would be like now. We’ll never know for sure, but The Front Runner does an admirable job of providing the core of what politics would become.