The series also offers glimpses of what made Kennedy such a legislative titan, from his soaring rhetorical flourishes on the floor to his easy charm and humor.
When one of Kennedy’s beloved Portuguese water dogs barks in a meeting of staffers and advocates after his bill fails on the floor, Kennedy responds, “That’s Sessions, barking at us.”
His reference to Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., an outspoken opponent of the bill, lifts the glum group to laugh heartily. It’s a small moment, but an important one that shows Kennedy’s ability to do the most basic of political things: hold a room in the palm of his hand.
He goes on.
“This place is a very chemical place ... and there’s a rhythm to this place, and there’s an ebb and flow in terms of when things are possible, and then suddenly, the stars come in line and things are right and we get some results, and you can’t manufacture that time, and you have to have a lot of patience.”
It’s a statement that could just as easily apply to the work of Robertson and Camerini.
Graham was right. After an immigration overhaul fell short in 2007, it was six years until the Senate would pass like-minded legislation, this past summer.
Robertson and Camerini, still working on the last two films of the series, came back to Washington. They continue to film.
“There’s a lot of bias against government, against the way government works,” Jones told CQ Roll Call. “The energy that seeing politicians as anything but human is extensive and constant, and so what I hope for the films is that people would be able to discover them ... and maybe in the process reconsider what they consider possible in politics,” he said.
The art of the possible. The struggle of ideas. The people and their representatives. Human frailty and courage. The White House. Kennedy’s Capitol hideaway. The biggest stage. The loneliest meeting. It’s all there in “How Democracy Works Now.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.