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Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco
by Burt Prelutsky
by Mark Steyn
Paines, Colonel Pitts & C. Gray Nagin
Finefrock - Hollywood Forum [scriptwriter]
Larry Hagman played against his J.R. Ewing type as reserve colonel Pitts in "The
Eagle Has Landed" -- an inept man eager to exploit an opportunity to display
leadership, but instead proves he's overdriving his headlights in challenging
German paratroopers attempting to kidnap Churchill. This Labor Day Weekend gave
a mix of films on broadcast and cable, with "Eagle" finding Pitts charging
recklessly into the German ambush, disregarding his battle-trained subordinates'
alternate advice for a reconnoiter before advancing into an unknown terrain.
When routed and his men scattered with multiple casualties, radio sit-reps [situation
reports] frustrate his hope for vainglorious recognition, after long stateside
isolation as a reservist finally given a potential battlefield commission of
combat troops. "Well, regroup. Do Something!" Pitts radios to his harried
me of so many soulless souls in today's politics, not least
Lt. Governor Gray Davis of California in 1998, running
for governor and then resoundinglly
re-elected, only to be recalled by the people, giving us Arnold the Governator,
trying to govern the least governable state in the union's history. As Lt. Governor,
Gray Davis was a suitable lt. governor; as Governor, he proved he was still a
good lt. governor. As with Louisiana's Kathleen "blank faced" Blanco
in the Katrina Affair of last year, this year, and many years to yet come into
the news. Then there's C. Ray Nagin, who was a so-so reform-mayor in a puny-yet-"major" city
in a French enclave. Nagin's NOLA [New Orleans, LA] re-elected him as the Chocolate
Mayor, who was first made mayor by 80% of the white vote, this time around the
blacks confirming his job as he got a tiny slice of white vote. C. Gray Nagin,
meet Gray Davis. As to the citizens of NOLA, meet Hizzoner, New York's
mayor Edward Koch.
Hizzoner: The People Have Spoken...
Upon NYC's decline under mayor David Dinkins, one of Koch's former supporters
from a heavily Jewish neighborhood lamented on the deterioration of her beloved
city since Dinkins' dinky talents had taken over; Koch recognized her as one
of the defectors from his longtime coalition, a Jewish activist who'd publicly
switched to Dinkins' side. "Please, Mr. Mayor, we need you back, the city
is in desperate straits. Won't you please run again?" was her emotional
plea. Koch remained unruffled: "No, madame, the people have spoken. And
now, the people must be punished."
And so it is in NOLA, and in LA-land in general, as Mississippi charges upward
with many times the construction permits issued than yet are issued in its westerly
neighbor. Seems the Big Easy is still taking it easy, as they hope to take it
sleazy again, and take federal handouts endlessly into the next century. Old
habits are hard to break, and to brake as well....judging by Congress' eternal
flame of eternal output of eternal tax revenues, and eternally taxing the productive
citizens so the Big Easy can keep on rockin' along. And all that jazz.
Also this weekend was TCM's airing of Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" with
Jimmy Stewart's wide-eyed Jefferson Smith finding there's not a whole lot of
loyalty, or courage, or reliability in political circles. Capra was firmly whacked
when Washington, D.C. audiences got a VIP's first-viewing in 1939; only Billy
Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard" got a colder reception by the audience
represented by a film. Wilder was excluded from Hollywood soirees for sometime
after his noir-take on the film biz, and film egos. Capra almost got hung when
senators and congressmen saw how they were portrayed in "Smith" [as
did journalists!]: venal, mendacious, shallow, narcissistic and readily accepting
of lies and phony "evidence" against Smith. Led into this lyin' den
by his state's senior senator Paine, Smith's simple bill to create a boys' camp
triggers political boss Taylor's vengeance machinery to depths that almost defies
Taylor turns loose a barrage when a larger, long-written bill's imminent approval
seems threatened by Smith's simple, heartfelt proposal. Experienced political
viewers then, and now, would observe: Why not simply amend Smith's bill to
build the camp elsewhere, and leave intact your 'sufficiency' bill and all its
arrangements? Answer: Then there would be no plot. And yet, the plot is plausible,
as it plays out in real political venues large and small, past and present, in
middle states and Hollywood caverns of conservatives. The reaction of power-meister
Taylors, aided by otherwise honorable but cowardly Paines, is not unusual. A
smalltown prosecutor seeking statewide recognition fosters an implausible indictment
at the behest of a future gubernatorial candidate, and ruins the political future
of one family, which sees its "friends" melt like a summer snowcone.
Forty years later, an actor's ego strikes a member of that family, Taylor-like,
while a roomful of Paines run for the tall grass. Snowcones melting then, and
now, and not just for Jefferson Smith on the silver screen.
Jeff Smith's fate was saved by the script writer's pen, as Paine conveniently
suffers a third-act surge of conscience and reveals the sordid plot to a Senate,
poised to destroy the young idealist, collapsed before baskets of telegrams condemning
him due to massive lies proffered by Taylor, and well-known to Paine at every
stage of the defamatory assaults. Such Deus Ex Machina [act of god, or scripter]
options don't occur in real life. There is no Ex Machina device to save NOLA
from the wretched incompetence, and viciousness, of the Gray Davis of the south.
The people have spoken, and others have remained silent -- not to mention the
media's near-blackout of any serious ridicule of Nagin [at least Saturday Night
Live slammed him for his Chocolate City remarks] -- and the people of NOLA shall
so suffer, and the taxpayers of the other forty-nine states. Whereas Smith was
going into political terra incognito, Paine well knew what was happening and
boldly pretended to be an honorable man, even as he delivered phony evidence,
all to protect his twenty-year career, and a possible future presidential option,
as well as homestate political potentates.
Labor Day Sit-Rep
This is a summer soldiers' season, as the past rehearsals give us a cowardly
George Will, who once described Ronald Reagan's wilting before hostage dramas, "Ronald
Reagan had a hard time being hard" and thus came Iran Contra, plus withdrawal
from Beirut [cited by Osama Bin Laden, and others, as one reason they believed
thence that we would ultimately wither in any confrontation with terrorists].
Will has lost his will, along with other conservatives, neo-cons and paleo-cons.
This is the time that tries men's souls and proves who are the sunshine patriots.
They believe in standing by their man, so long as their man is standing unbent,
unbashed, unchallenged. So long as "Mission Accomplished" was an easy
'photo op' to herald, Dubya had George and others cheering.
But now, they are fleeing to the tall grass, melting like those summer snowcones.
Some think we went charging in like Colonel Pitts, as others are Paine-like in
their lack of courage when the going gets rough. Just as many made little effort
to challenge the puny priss that served as a poor excuse as NOLA's mayor, and
LA's governor, in issuing a barrage against Dubya in the wake of Katrina nightmares.
The flurry of criticism was unmatched by conservatives' support of a Dubya no
longer undaunted and undented.
So many snowcones....
This ain't no stinkin' movie. But it is very much like a movie, as phony evidence
and scurrilous characterizations are proffered by the left, and only faintly
challenged by the right, and many are joining Will -- who himself finds it hard
to be hard, when the Valley Forge of this current challenge encompasses him and
other cons. It's deja vu all over again, as lies and tough times prove who the
friends are, or were, and thus become few and far between. First, evangelicals
abandoned Dubya in 2000, after the DWI 'revelation' emerged the weekend before
the polls opened. They felt "betrayed" and pouted all the way to almost
a Gore presidency. Now, cons are sour on spending -- with good reason -- and
may give us Speaker Pelosi. And are sour on sour notes out of Iraq. And seem
to not be rejuvenated at the Plame Game having been finally revealed for its
Broken Political Machina
Alfred Hitchcock claimed movies were just like real life, only with the boring
bits cut away. This sit-rep is very familiar indeed. Friends abandoned my democrat-party
family forty years ago, even though the appellate court chastized the DA and
the judge as well [who didn't want to "offend the 'courthouse gang'" as
he made quote marks with his finger, from the bench]. And the new-century GOPster
friends went wobbly in Hollywood, when less awesome lies were proffered, but
also didn't want to offend that 'courthouse gang' in which they wished to circulate
after the 'trial' had rendered its pre-ordained verdict. And friends are abandoning
Dubya.... a much more serious level of tallgrass embrace.
It ain't a movie, but it do feel like one. Whereas it's true that history doesn't
truly, and fully, repeat itself, sometimes it do RHYME!. And this nationwide
sit-rep is rhyming with movies and personal ventures with a resonance that is
disconcerting. Too many Paines, too many C. Gray Nagins, too many NOLA nincompoops.
Not enough courage, in Hollywood, in the Senate of Capra's imagination, nor in
the GOPster inner circles.
It's going to be a rough ride, if we get Speaker Pelosi. It will be a world which
rhymes with C. Gray Nagin and Jefferson Smith. Cowardly lyin' going on, both
by dems and GOPsters. And a lot of so-called friends of Dubya proving they don't
have the Will to live once the goin' gets rough.
These Paines come to mind this Labor Day holiday. These Paines do try men's souls,
in the movies and in real life. In the past and the present. In my past democrat-party
life and my current GOPster life. In middle states then and there, and Hollywood
environs now and here. And a whole lot of Pitts are at the helm, in command,
calling the shots, demonstrating that movies do rhyme with the GOP, as the Peter
Principle extends from Pitts to Paine and environs too real, and too important,
to allow to continue.
Potter's Field of Schemes
If only it were a movie: I could re-write the ending, Capra-like, and give us
Capra-corn and Capra-esque satisfaction. Unlike that cowardly judge in my teens,
this ending would be replete with courageous conservatives' conclaves of energetic
support for Dubya. Unlike those cowardly conservatives in Tinseltown, Dubya would
be met with the same Capra-corn support as Jimmy Stewart received as George Bailey's
Deus Ex Machina redemption in "It's A Wonderful Life" -- maybe the
most preposterous film suspension of disbelief ever written. Of course in that
story, mean Mr. Potter was not a politician with a slew of allies benefiting
from his scheming, but a universally-hated man who'd been thwarted with the gleeful
agreement of all the citizens of Bedford Falls. Had any of them desired to be
invited to a Potter dinner or social event, Bailey might have found the last-minute
assist a bit less enthusiastic. Bedford Falls snowcones falling before Potter's
George Bush won't get George Bailey's courageous ending. We've lost George Will,
who is no slouch as a conservative. Unlike the RINO regiments of semi-republicans,
Will's loss of will is emblematic of the GOP's lost fortunes. We've surrendered
our highground superiority on fiscal responsibility -- Har, Har, Har -- and now
on national security, we've gone wobbly, as George has abandoned George, just
as those Bedford Falls folks would have abandoned their George if they desired
to be invited to a Potter's field soiree. Losing Will is a sign that republicans
had their chance to show some stones. When it counted. When it wasn't easy. When
it wasn't summer, but smack dab inside Valley Forge.
Shrill, Distant Voice....
But, this do rhyme with other stories, both real and reel. That smalltown judge
wanted to be liked by the courthouse gang, and Will wants to be liked by someone
other than conservatives. Then there's W.F. Buckley, himself going a bit wobbly.
Washington had this problem -- Benedict Arnold's defection and betrayal came
as the Redcoats had been winning for nearly two years straight -- as did Lincoln
[they were called Copperheads]. It do seem that we've gone wobbly-- not just
America, but its only salvation, conservatives finally controlling both houses
and the White House simultaneously, for the first time since the first two years
of Ike's presidency.
It's a rhyme that's a crime. No wonder C. Gray Nagin gets away with political
crimes. Conservatives' cojones are very, very small indeed. Reagan bailed out
of Beirut, and Will has bailed out on Iraq. I hear the voice, a distant shrillness,
of the House of Representatives being called to order by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
And the spilling of blood and wasting of treasure in Iraq. And the people will
We've gone wobbly, just as that judge did in '66, and my friends did in '04,
and Dubya' s friends are doing in '06. It is a rhyme that is a crime. If only
it were a movie.......... CRO
2006 Steve Finefrock