Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story

Rated 4.0

Stefan Forbes’ Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story is a relatively standard clips doc about the GOP campaign assassin/former Republican National Committee chairman, but it presents an adroit and refreshingly unshrill perspective of his undeniable influence on the modern conservative movement. A sharp, cackling, blues-guitar-wailing con artist from South Carolina, Atwater’s precocious penchant for rigging student elections led to a job with Strom Thurmond. Presumably learning a few things about wielding race fears as a political weapon, Atwater became a master of the pointless “wedge issue” (especially the demonization of blacks and Jews), culminating in his 1988 campaign for George Bush, a political gutter from which we’ve never emerged. Forbes solicits a variety of interviews about this walking paradox, from the political opponents he ruined to fervent admirers (and modern-day practitioners of his method) like Mary Matalin and Karl Rove.