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By Mark Bell | March 17, 2008

What continues to resonate with me about “Crawford” is how absolutely objective the film truly is. Sure, one would expect such a stance from a documentary, but it’s not so often the case. Many docs nowadays pick their perspective, commit to it, and the other stuff, dissenting opinions, etc, becomes far more peripheral. With “Crawford,” the right mingles with the left, no one is declared a winner and the only thing that truly becomes apparent is how victimized one small town in Texas has become.

“Crawford” is a documentary about the small town in Texas where President George W. Bush, prior to his presidency, decided to take up residence. As the days prior to the 2000 election rolled on, Crawford found itself bustling with campaign activity, as Bush perpectuated his “down-home” persona direct from his ranch. Upon his election, and re-election, Crawford continually found itself a tourist haven for those eager to be near the home of the Leader of the Free World. Then, you know, the Iraq War happened.

All of a sudden, it’s not all conservative smiles and football, as Cindy Sheehan and her gang of 20,000+ war protestors move into Crawford and set up camp alongside Bush’s ranch. As the protests intensify, the Crawford townsfolk (ranking at only 705 when the film began) find themselves in the middle of an aggravating environment, stuck between their famous neighbor, those that hate him and the media that wants to film every second of it. Eventually, however, the protestors move on, the media focus changes and, as Bush’s popularity plummets, so too does the economic climate of the once booming tourist mecca. It’s a small town economical rise-and-fall, all within the span of 8 years.

As I mentioned, the film does a brilliant job with staying objective and focusing more on the plight of the town then the politics of right or left. Sure, there’s the more open-minded teacher who finds herself at odds with most of the town, but we also get to hear from the other people within the town, including some of its oldest residents, that aren’t drawing party lines so much as trying to keep their town as strong as it was before it became a political circus. It was refreshing, and the ultimate compliment to director David Modigliani, to have such a politically charged environment delivered to the viewer with such an even hand.

I would never count myself as a Bush supporter, but seeing Cindy Sheehan and company roll into town with their tents and protests… Bush chose Crawford, not the other way around, and the whole political battleground, to the detriment of the residents surrounding, made me sick to my stomach. Crawford did not deserve the treatment it got, has gotten by the media (small town, residents all right-wing morons) and it sure as Hell didn’t deserve what appears to be its final status as a veritable ghost town; the last waves of political riverboating having subsided.

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