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In New Documentary, Obama Confronts a Country on the Brink

Staff Report
Alabama Political Reporter

The Obama campaign on Thursday night released “The Road We’ve Traveled,” a 17-minute video with a series of screenings at its campaign offices nationwide and a live stream on YouTube.

The video uses archival news footage, interviews with administration officials and a flurry of statistics to create a narrative arc for President Obama’s first three years in office: He became president when the country was in miserable shape, fought against obstinate resistance to make bold reforms, like overhauling health care and ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and put the country back on track.

The documentary has glossy Hollywood production values — it was directed by Davis Guggenheim, the Oscar-winning director of “An Inconvenient Truth,” and is narrated by Tom Hanks — but relies on many of the traditional trappings of a campaign ad. There he is, laughing with cute children. Or embracing an old woman. Watch him as he fist-bumps a supporter.

The story narrated by Mr. Hanks starts with elation on election night in 2008 and quickly segues to despair with the beginning of the Great Recession.

David Axelrod, the president’s senior campaign strategist, likens watching the president’s first major economic briefing to a horror movie. “All I was thinking at that moment was: ‘Can we get a recount?’” he says.

Adds Mr. Hanks, “Not since the days of Franklin Roosevelt had so much fallen on the shoulders of one president.”

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The film devotes a significant amount of time – nearly three minutes – to the president’s backing of a financial rescue package for Detroit automakers. And it highlights Mitt Romney’s New York Times Op-Ed from that period, when he argued that the car companies should not receive any government assistance. The headline, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” is framed in bright red for emphasis.

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