Best Political Horror Movie Of 2017: Get Me Roger Stone
Looking back over 2017, Netflix’s documentary Get Me Roger Stone is probably the most important documentary made in that year about the present American political morass. Roger Stone is a prime mover behind the rise of the alt-right and its champion, Donald Trump.
It has something for everyone, left and right, moderate and extreme. Even Breitbart finds a lot to love in it, praising it as “short of a love letter.”
On the other side of the spectrum, Alissa Wilkinson of Vox describes the documentary as a horror movie.
Readers of Machiavelli will recognize a faithful student in Stone.
“Politics have no relation to morals.” — Machiavelli
In the replays of Stone’s triumphs, we watch a cunning so devious as to inspire frequent spinal shivers.
The documentary tracks how Stone promoted the extreme conservative agenda by destroying anyone or anything that could stop the greed of the superrich from taking all — and proudly — by any underhanded means possible. It captures Stone’s most gleeful smiles when he has truly gotten under someone’s skin.
Stone got his start in political tactics hanging out on the periphery of Nixon’s dirty tricks gang responsible for, among other disasters, Watergate. Stone barely got an honorable mention there, but this master of lies wear’s it as a badge of honor — especially since he got this high (to him) recognition at such a young age. In fond memory of his mentor in deceit, Stone has an image of Nixon’s face tattooed on his back.
As the documentary shows, Roger Stone played a part in our political discourse long before 2016. His role in laying the groundwork for the Southern Strategy cannot be understated.
Trump spoke to voter disgust at the influence that PAC’s and lobbyists had in Washington. Video clips show the soon-to-be president proclaiming “It’s all rigged”, — and his voters exalt in a champion who, at last, was going to drain the swamp of these influence peddlers. Yet, as the Daily Beast’s Harvey Siegel comments, Stone and partner Paul Manafort (of the recent Russia connection charges fame), “are the ones who built the rigging.”
Here are just a couple of examples from a long list of Stone’s accomplishments in the two-hour documentary.
Eliot Spitzer was seen as the future of the Democratic Party. He had proved himself loyal to his office as attorney general and not to his pocketbook as so many other Attorney Generals had (and still do). Spitzer had brought so much corporate abuse under control that an outraged corporate lobby, the US Chamber of Commerce, attacked Spitzer’s success as “the most egregious and unacceptable form of intimidation we’ve seen in this country in modern times”
Spitzer had to be stopped — and Stone was the man to do it. With his connections in the sleazy underworld of sex clubs, Stone uncovered a prostitute who would testify that Spitzer was her client. Stone, unashamedly — because he is incapable of shame — circulated an embellishment that Spitzer liked to have sex with prostitutes with his socks on. To follow up, Stone circulated a mockup showing a naked Spitzer wearing only his socks. Stone admitted he had no idea whether that was true or not, but it didn’t matter. Once that picture was out, Spitzer was finished as an effective force to bring corporate greed under control.
Stone’s role in the 2000 Bush-Gore election can’t be understated as well. Stone knew that for extreme conservatives to grab control of the Republican Party, he needed to destroy that middle of the road third-party venture, the Reform Party, then lead by Ross Perot.
With a manipulative mastery to that would impress Machiavelli, Stone induced a flawed candidate to run for the Reform Party’s presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan — knowing that Buchanan had a secret illegitimate child. Then he also encouraged Trump to run against Buchanan for the same nomination. Trump dropped out. Stone waited for his moment to strike. When the time was right, Stone opened the closet door, Buchanan was ruined as a candidate and so was any chance of a third-party in America.
While the newly revealed indictments of Russian meddling in the presidential election are just emerging, Russia’s use of disinformation is eerily similar to Stone’s strategy. Although the documentary doesn’t dive deeply into Roger Stone’s correspondence with Wikileaks, the echoes of Russia’s interference are felt at various times in the documentary.
If Shakespeare were to write a soliloquy for Roger Stone, it might go like this:
I can add colours to the chameleon,
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
And set the murderous Machiavel to school.
(Of course, Shakespeare did write that of the soon to be Richard III (Henry VI, Part III,)
If you like Machiavelli, you will love Roger Stone!