I finally saw it last night. It’s possible the hype wave is crashing over me and my opinion is a little colored, but: Wow. Just a terrific gut-punch of a movie. And I say this as someone who thought Mystic River was lame and Million Dollar Baby was only three or three and a half stars.
Apart from, obviously, the podcast linked below, I haven’t taken Hillary Clinton’s Plantationgate very seriously. It’s quite interesting as a macro political issue, but it really has no bearing on her current race for re-election in New York. The White House and GOP have largely bungled the playbook for the 2006 Senate races, and New York has become the most glaring example. Really, who would have imagined only a year ago that the GOP couldn’t get a candidate to run against Hillary Clinton? One month ago the party’s marquee candidate Jeanine Pirro quit the race, leaving a former mayor of Yonkers the frontrunner for the GOP nod.
But did Pirro actually quit? I was checking the National Republican Senatorial Committee site for something else and saw this:
Bigger pic here.
I’ve added my voice to John Tabin’s first-ever podcast, here. The subject is Hillary Clinton – John approaches it from the right, I approach it from the … well, not left, but from the position of someone who’s sympathetic to a Democrat getting elected in 2008.
One might ask, why add my voice to a podcast so soon after making fun of Mark Levin’s voice? Three words: Glutton. For. Punishment.
Since my other New Years resolutions are humming along, let’s try another one: Keeping track of every book I read. And reading, I dunno, 52 of them. First up:
De Gaulle: The Rebel 1890-1944
by Jean Lacouture, translated by Patrick O’Brian
The French general and statesman Charles De Gaulle has intrigued me for a long time, and for a particularly American reason. Namely, how did this asshole give himself credit for the liberation of France in 1944, and have the French take him seriously? Lacouture’s elegant, comprehensive biography answers that with more detail than you could possibly need. I enjoyed the first 200 pages devoted to De Gaulle’s career, which was actually distinguished and justified him having a little bit of ego. But I agonized over the next 370 pages, all spent on De Gaulle’s bumbling misadventures as leader of the Free French. Lacouture writes well, O’Brian (the “Master and Commander” author) translates beautifully, but it’s so hard to care about the intrigues and backbiting in De Gaulle’s circle of fugitives and lackeys.
However, I’ve got to compliment Lacouture for squeezing some amusement out of these stories. De Gaulle’s sense of self-importance was so enormous, so undeserved, that it practically jumps out of the ink and punches you in les testicules. At one point, after the French participate in some operations, Eisenhower writes De Gaulle a short letter apologizing for dismissing him so many times before. De Gaulle responds: “You are a man.” Because it was up in the air whether Ike was or not, really. Also, one hell of a sitcom could be crafted out of De Gaulle’s slapfights with Winston Churchill.
There were two shots across the bow of Clinton ’08 this week, one that missed by a country mile and one that got close (although this post by Captain Ed humorously gets like 10 facts wrong, he wasn’t the norm).
But there’s an air of pointlessness about this. While the celebrity/ratings/stock footage-driven media has anointed Clinton, and name recognition-based polls rank her first among Democratic hopefuls, I don’t think Democrats would complain if she wasn’t their nominee. Personal grudges and Clinton fatigue aside, they want to win and they’re not sure she can. When tested against GOP frontrunners (also not running yet) John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, she loses. (“Dream candidates” Condoleezza Rice and Jeb Bush usually poll behind Hillary, but there’s that media thing I mentioned before.) The Democrats were in a similar fix in 1998-2000, as Al Gore always polled like crap against George W. Bush, but Gore had two advantages Hillary doesn’t.
1) The Vice Presidency. Yes, it’s obvious, but what it meant was that all the resources of the Democratic party were Al Gore’s for the taking from 1996 onward, as were all the big consultants, admen, etc.
2) No competition. The potential Democratic field in 2000 was one of the weakest in modern history – possible candidates against Gore included John Kerry, Bill Bradley, and the MS-stricken Paul Wellstone. Two senators and a former senator, two tall and boring and one short and, well, MS-stricken. I would argue that Mark Warner and Russ Feingold are right away more impressive than that field, have larger natural constituencies, bring more advantages to a general election, etc.
I don’t know every Democrat in the country, but I know plenty, and none of them are thrilled about a Hillary candidacy. They either don’t like her or like her but think she can’t win. A Hillary exit from the presidential race would not trouble the Democrats as much as the loss of Mario Cuomo in 1992, Gary Hart in 1988, or even Ted Kennedy in 1984 (in 1983, Kennedy outpolled Ronald Reagan).
I have a pan of a new British band’s album up at Popmatters.
My friend Dean ranks the movies he saw in 2005.
Two longstanding NBC shows, two opinions.
– Saturday Night Live. Damn, it was good last night. The “wedding ring” skit fell flat, but absolutely nothing else did, and the Hanna Barbara style “Darwin” cartoon should be taught in religion classes. Uh. Funny religion classes.
– The West Wing. Are the writers just writing bad dialogue to see if they can? My goodness. One funny one-liner in this entire episode, and it went like this:
DANNY: I think he’s banging the nanny.
DANNY: I think he’s banging the nanny.
CJ: Is that a figure of speech?
DANNY: No … well, I guess “banging” is.
Downhill from there. I nearly yelled at the TV when Mary McCormack was told of the presidential son-in-law’s affair and said “Get out!” Let’s get some damn Alan Alda back on the screen, huh?
MLK BASH-BUSH DAY: Jim Hoft rounds up the bash-Bush events planned for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday tomrrow …
Aside from the scintillating question of whether a minimum wage rally constitutes “Bush-bashing,” it’s worth remembering that King was an anti-war social democrat who thought the US (in 1967) was the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” “Impeach Bush Now!” activists are pretty much the most annoying people in the universe, but I won’t begrudge them acting out on MLK Day.
Oh. So this is January.