The Drexel Theatre Blog

Ides of March Special Screening a Success!

October 31, 2011

David Wilhelm shares his election strategies.

A packed auditorium!

Dr. Herb Asher and Doug Preisse field questions.

If you weren’t there, you should know that the Drexel’s October 19 screening of The Ides of March was a huge success! It sparked debate, straddled party lines, and ended with a massive group hug (ok, maybe no group hug, but things still ended well). Playing for a sold-out auditorium, the film explored ideas of political idealism, fatalism, and betrayal. With ample material for a post-film discussion, guest moderator Herb Asher (professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State and counselor to the university president) asked some pressing questions about the movie’s themes and their application to real life. Of course, in the company of political insiders Doug Preisse (Chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party and Executive Director for the 1992 and 1996 Republican Presidential Campaigns in Ohio) and David Wilhelm (former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and President Bill Clinton’s former national campaign manager), Asher also pressed for dish. The guest speakers graciously obliged.

Without naming names, both Preisse and Wilhelm agreed that Marisa Tomei’s character—a dogged, voracious New York Times reporter—accurately reflected several local reporters’ personalities. They also posited that betrayal, which ran rampant in Ides, was certainly a dark aspect of the political realm.

When an audience member asked about the media’s portrayal of the Democratic Party as “wimpy,” Wilhelm offered a bold explanation: “Liberals are a more inquisitive bunch, prone to questioning themselves. That’s why they do worse on radio and better in documentaries.”
Preisse quickly countered that “the Bill Clintons and James Carvilles of the world are perfectly capable of defending themselves.”
Both speakers concluded the discussion by emphasizing the positive components of politics. “While there is definitely some back-stabbing,” said Preisse, “loyalty is common in politics too. Loyalty is important in all sectors, not just politics, and I have bonded very closely with my political family over the years.”

Wilhelm offered that the film—which chronicled the main character’s (Ryan Gosling) campaign transition from passionate idealist to jaded politico—did not accurately depict the campaign process. While he appreciated the dramatic value of the film, Wilhelm cautioned young audience members against viewing politics as purely grim, ruthless terrain. “The reason I love politics is because there really is still a passion among many people to reach important goals and maintain hope. For me, that hasn’t gone away.”

--Kate Lindsmith, recent Boston University Graduate and freelance writer

Feel free to comment below: