(Photo via Netflix)
Roger Stone is one of the worst human beings that has ever graced American politics, and I think both Republicans and Democrats will can agree to that. Conservatives and political pundits marvel at Stone as a pioneer in modern-day politicking, while liberals might see Stone as helping with the demise of American democracy as we know it. He’s the man who, depending on your perspective, was solely responsible for how our politics got so polluted, divided, nasty, and so on. What’s fascinating about Roger Stone is that he doesn’t seem to be bothered by any of this, and in fact embraces the reputation that’s been given to him over the years. I should detest the new documentary on Roger Stone, titled Get Me Roger Stone, but it’s so wildly entertaining and fascinating to watch that I can’t help but recommend it. Whether you hate him or love him, this one is worth a look.
The film discusses the rise and fall and eventual comeback on Roger Stone. He started out working for Richard Nixon when he was just 19 years old, became the leader of the Young Republicans with Paul Mannafort, founding Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly in D.C. in the 1980’s the influence the politicians they had helped get elect by working on their campaigns. During this, the lobbying firm helped create Super-PAC’s, which would allow political action committees to raise and spend as much money as they pleased on advertising for a certain candidate or against a candidate. The only thing they couldn’t do was give the money to that said candidate. It was a poisonous beginning to American politics, and one that continues to be rampant today. While we see this story, it serves as a backdrop to the main focal point of the film, which is Stone’s decades-long relationship with Donald Trump, a real estate developer at the time in the 80’s when they met that Stone begged and begged to run for office someday.
The film, directed by three different people (Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme) tells the story of Stone’s rise and fall (a sex scandal in the 1990s) to his eventual comeback working for the Trump campaign a few years back. The film features a typical documentary biopic format in some sections, and follows Stone in real-time as he works for the Trump campaign either as a surrogate on cable television or as an official member, and to his time with InfoWars host Alex Jones (who continues to be a close confidant today). But in terms of that sex scandal, Roger Stone never really went away in-between then and now. He talks about how he helped create the destruction of the Reform Party when Pat Buchanan was running for President in 2000, and helped create much of the chaos involving the recount vote in Florida after the election of 2000, with George W. Bush becoming victorious in that race. Roger does not play safe or clean, and is very aware of this. The tattoo of Richard Nixon’s face on the back of his neck should be an indication of how colorful a character Roger Stone is.
Roger Stone always plays dirty, and is well aware of this. When you see him lying through his teeth about how Donald Trump is a candidate for the working man, Roger’s past and what he’s telling the audience gives you a better understanding as to what kind of candidate Donald Trump. While Trump gave speeches advocating for the working man, he was not-so-discreetly giving a political platform that would help benefit some of the wealthiest Americans in this country (Trump’s campaign promise on the de-regulation of “small business” is a huge example of this). And Roger, even if he wasn’t working for the campaign for very long, was one of the masterminds behind this and Trump’s victory.
The film features a variety of pundits giving background on Roger and what the world had become because of Stone’s influence. People like Tucker Carlson, Jeffery Toobin, even Donald Trump himself, and many more talk about Stone and their time with him. Some interviewed for this film hate Stone, while some talk glowingly about Roger Stone. But everyone is in agreement in that Stone is a brilliant, brilliant political genius. He has and had an understanding on how to tap into people’s deep seeded fears and thoughts and helped get candidates elected through exploiting a lot of those mindsets. He’s a terrible person for doing so, but you can’t deny his brilliance.
It kind of pains me that I enjoyed this documentary on Roger Stone so much. But this isn’t a sycophantic look into Stone’s life by the filmmakers, or even a glowing look. They’re well aware of the kind of man who Roger Stone is (and Paul Mannafort, who you’ll probably continue to see/read a lot for the next few months during this Russia stuff), and they don’t shy away from it. He’s brilliant, but he’s also an evil and peculiar human being. If you’re a fan of documentaries and just fascinated with what has unfolded in the past two years, I recommend giving Give Me Roger Stone a watch on Netflix. It might make your blood boil in some areas, but you’ll be so entertained in others that you’ll survive the viewing without having a heart attack. I know that sounds a little morbid, but when you’re talking about Roger Stone, ending on a morbid note feels right.