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Movie night at the White House
By Ken Herman

Austin-American Statesman


It was dinner and a movie Sunday night in the White House family theater as President Bush, Vice President Cheney, their spouses and about 40 invited guests watched a screening of “The Kite Runner,” a movie that depicts some of the horror and violence in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

Khaled Hosseini, author of the best-selling novel, was among those on hand for a film that, for many in the room, served to justify U.S. efforts to oust the Taliban regime after the 9/11 attacks. The movie is scheduled to open in theaters on Nov. 2. It carries a PG-13 rating “for strong thematic material including the rape of a child, violence and brief strong language.”

Bush made very brief remarks prior to settling into his comfy front-row chair. He said the movie should be a reminder about appreciating freedom.

“And if it’s a lousy movie it’s not the writer’s fault,” he joked.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino today said Bush, who had read the book, was “moved by the film.”

Post-screening chit-chat prior to buffet dinner found consensus that it was a powerful and well-made movie that tells an important story.

The guest list was impressive. In addition to the president and vice president’s spouses, the audience included Defense Secretary Robert Gates; outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace; U.S Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad (former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan); Said Jawad, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S; National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley; and Douglas Lute, Bush’s war czar.

Also on hand were two former key aides who recently left the White House, political adviser Karl Rove and Press Secretary Tony Snow (who was still dealing with moving boxes out of his office after the movie and dinner).

Jenna Bush, the first family’s recently engaged daughter also watched the movie. She still seems to be adjusting to the engaged life, correcting herself during post-movie small talk to refer to future husband Henry Hager as her “fiance” after first calling him her “boyfriend.”

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