‘Boogie Man:’ Atwater film coming to Cola


You probably already read in the paper that "Boogie Man," the documentary about Lee Atwater, is coming to the Nickelodeon. A fresh reminder came in via e-mail from Judy Turnipseed:

This movie which starts this week at the Nickelodeon about
the famous Lee Atwater features Tom Turnipseed with a lot of other South
Carolinians.  Tom will be on a panel about the movie on Friday night. 
Here is a review of
it in the New York Times
Here is a link to a trailer of the movie and how to buy
tickets at the Nick if you want to see the movie.



Tom, of course, was the object of one of the most outrageously mean things Atwater ever said. Here, from a 1991 story by our own Lee Bandy, is a short version of that bit of history:

Tom Turnipseed, a liberal Democrat who ran for Congress in South Carolina, once accused Atwater of engineering a survey of white voters in which they were pointedly informed of Turnipseed’s membership in the NAACP. Atwater denied the charge, but also said that he did not want to deal with allegations made by someone who had once been "hooked up to jumper cables," referring to shock treatments Turnipseed had received years before as a suicidal teenager.

He said that in 1980, when Turnipseed was running against Floyd Spence.

15 thoughts on “‘Boogie Man:’ Atwater film coming to Cola

  1. Brad Warthen

    For those of you who looked at that photograph and wondered, "Where did THAT come from?," here’s the caption from the AP archives:

    Ed Rollins, President Ronald Reagan’s campaign director, left, Lee Atwater, deputy campaign director,center and Lyn Nofziger, a Republican Party consultant,smoke cigars and applaud during the final session of the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Thursday night, August 23, 1984. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky)

    I had never seen this photo before I found it a few minutes ago. I think it does a pretty good job of capturing the Atwater I remember.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Aw, Jeez, I just followed the link to the movie Web site, and the promotional material reads: "From Rove to Reagan to the Bushes to McCain 2008, he wrote the GOP playbook…"

    So much for me taking the makers — or at least, the promoters — of this flick seriously. As you know, I have no patience with the sort of Democrat who can’t tell the difference between McCain and Bush. For me, that’s beneath contempt. To assert that Lee Atwater "wrote the book" for John McCain goes so far beyond the pale that words fail me…

  3. bud

    Brad inexplicably continues to confuse the McCain of 2000 with the McCain of 2008. McCain oppossed the Bush tax cuts for the super wealthy in 2001. Now he supports them.
    As Barack Obama pointed out in the debate McCain has been an ardent opponent of policies that allow the military to conduct torture on captured soldiers. Recently he remained silent when Bush suggested he would ignore the anti-torture law just passed. And worse was to come when he voted to allow the CIA to torture captured soldiers. That was a real stunner.
    McCain has relied heavily on an old crony of the Bush family, Phil Gramm, to advise him on economic matters. McCain continues to support the Bush policy of stay-the-course in Iraq. (Even Bush is now open to a time table for withdrawal).
    McCain runs extremely nasty ads in the old tradition of Lee Atwater. One compared Obama to Paris Hilton. Another made the outrageous claim that Obama supports sex education for kindergarten kids.
    Really Brad, the two seem joined at the hip in terms of the issues and even on campaign style, so why is it “beneath contempt” to merely point out how similar the two men are behaving? Seems like fair game to me.

  4. Brad Warthen

    Well, it doesn’t to me.
    Obviously, I’m not the one who’s confused. McCain is McCain, period. It’s people who find it convenient to say it’s NOT the same man, and that instead it’s George W. Bush, who have an incredible proposition to support.
    I’ve got DNA evidence on my side of the question.

  5. bud

    Brad, David Brooks has made essentially the same argument. My take is a bit different. McCain seems desperate to become president and he’s willing to do or say anything. Maybe once he’s in the White House we’ll see the McCain of 2000 again and he’ll lead us to great things. If he’s elected we can keep our fingers crossed and hope so.
    For me the Iraq occupation is a deal breaker anyway so I wouldn’t vote for him regardless. But that decission is much easier given his bizarre behavior during the campaign. Last week pretty much sums up the McCain campaign with his on again, off again approach to the debate.
    But the really strange twist in this saga was, of course, the selection of Sarah Palin. She is just not even remotely qualified for the job she’s running for, yet McCain somehow found a way to pick her and claim this wasn’t for political reasons.
    Frankly, John McCain has become a very frightening man. Even without the Iraq debacle I would not consider voting for him now. He’s just too erradic.

  6. Doug Ross

    From Wikipedia:
    In a February 1991 article for Life Magazine, Atwater wrote:
    My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The ’80s were about acquiring — acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead us through the ’90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.

  7. Herb Brasher

    Thanks, Doug, for that quote. It’s too bad that the real lessons from a man like Atwater aren’t more emphasized.

  8. just saying

    Would be nice if people could learn those lessons before helping to make their conquests help make the world a colder place.

  9. Phillip

    Brad writes: “As you know, I have no patience with the sort of Democrat who can’t tell the difference between McCain and Bush. For me, that’s beneath contempt. To assert that Lee Atwater “wrote the book” for John McCain goes so far beyond the pale that words fail me…”
    And Brad thus demonstrates Lee Atwater’s legacy, which has been to alter American politics, perhaps forever. Not because of the Lee Mullers of the world, who always would have agreed with the Atwater view; but because of the Brad Warthens of the world, i.e., otherwise generally sensible people who have passively allowed the Atwater/Rove approach to push the goal posts so far to the the extreme and to the demagogic end of the playing that their own expectations of decency are lowered accordingly.
    In other words, Edmund Burke’s quote applies here: “all that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.” No, Brad, we’re not talking about McCain being evil. If you notice, the promotional material mentions the Bushes and “McCain 2008” , NOT just “McCain” by himself in the abstract. In other words, they speak of the McCain 2008 CAMPAIGN, which has taken on an increasingly Atwaterian approach.
    “Beneath contempt” Brad? How about this for being beneath contempt? Is this the bipartisan leader you think McCain still is? After seeing this ad and how Obama’s gracious acknowledgement of such agreements as do exist are turned back on him with cynical partisanship, can any serious observer think that McCain would make more sincere effort to reach across the aisle than Obama?
    We find examples of this strewn throughout the McCain campaign this season, and whatcha wanna bet that, should Mac find himself significantly down in the polls late in the game, we see a huge infusion of ads about Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, a bit of playing around with the color scale in any picture of Obama in ads? I wouldn’t bet against it.
    You missed the point of the promotional phrase for the movie, Brad. It’s not about the Bushes and McCain being alike. It’s about them all utilizing techniques and approaches that derive directly from Lee Atwater.
    And so when an editorial page editor who decries partisanship misses this point, then Atwater’s legacy achieves its true goal. Really a shame, I’d hoped for better from you.

  10. Lee Muller

    McCain needs a backbone like Lee Atwater now, who would run truth ads showing
    * Barney Frank and other Democrats in hearings, claiming now problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
    * The kickback money donated to Obama by those who stole millions from the mortgage programs.
    * Cop killers like Bill Ayers and his wife, who managed Obama’s campaign
    * The communist who ran Obama’s official web site, until he was exposed, and a new site replaced it.
    * The thousands of illegal campaign contributions from Muslims to Obama, now being investigated by the FEC.
    * Obama’s upbringing as a Muslim, and his love for Islam and his hatred of America, in his own words, from his books and speeches.

  11. Lee Muller

    Just as you Obama worshippers have no comeback to the truth, neither does Obama have any defense for his life of association with swindlers, terrorists, and radical Muslims who hate whites and Jews.

  12. Richard

    For the record Atwater began his political life as a democrat. He chose to work for the gop because they paid better.

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