Magazine article The Nation

President Heston

Magazine article The Nation

President Heston

Article excerpt

President Heston

Has it occurred to anyone that Charlton Heston's recent decision to forgo running for the Senate in favor of accepting a role in Dynasty II was a political decision? And that, therefore, he must still be taken seriously as a Republican Presidential candidate for 1988?

No doubt the arguments for Heston's considering a run for the Senate were that a Presidential candidate needs to know something about current issues and have a political record. But Heston realized that it would be more useful to his Presidential bid to be seen on television every week than to be buried for two years in the Senate. As a result of Ronald Reagan's success, more and more candidates will be required to defend or exploit the characters they have played in movies or on television, rather than their political ideas. Many politicians have already made debuts as entertainers. Geraldine Ferraro, Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, George McGovern, Jesse Jackson, Tip O'Neill, Ed Koch and dozens of others have appeared on commercials, sitcoms, variety shows and soap operas. They know what Heston knows: politics is semiotics.

We may take it for granted that if Heston becomes the Republican nominee for President in 1988, the Democrats will have to counter with Gregory Peck. Peck is Orson Welles's choice and a liberal. More to the point, he is the equal of Heston in celebrity and almost his equal in strong and favorable screen imagery. The "almost' will be a problem for the Democrats. Peck has done nothing to compare with Heston's Moses, Ben Hur, Michelangelo and Andrew Jackson, although his portrayals of Douglas MacArthur and the biblical David cannot be taken lightly. …

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