In the wake of yet another hard-fought and bitter presidential campaign, FRONTLINE presents a spirited and revealing biography of Lee Atwater, the charming, Machiavellian godfather of modern take-no-prisoners Republican political campaigns. Through eye-opening interviews with Atwater’s closest friends and adversaries, the film explores the life of the controversial political operative who mentored Karl Rove and George W. Bush, led the GOP to historic victories, and wrote the party’s winning playbook. The story tracks Atwater’s rise from his beginnings in South Carolina as a high school election kingmaker all the way to the White House and his subsequent battle with cancer and final search for forgiveness and redemption. To Democrats, Atwater was a political assassin who one Congresswoman dubbed “the most evil man in America,” but to Republicans he remains a hero for his deep understanding of the American voter and his unapologetic vision of politics as warfare.
And Atwater begat Rove. Insert some sort of Star Wars™ Sith Master/Apprentice or Tolkien Morgoth/Sauron reference here, as is your wont. Suffice to say, there will be another.