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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

lady from shanghai

That's the kind of moment we're in right now.

A Lady from Shanghai moment.

At the end of his black and white film noir classic, Orson Welles, playing the handsome rube Michael O'Hara, has been set up by rich yet infirm lawyer Everett Sloane...Arthur Bannister...and his double-down, double-dealing, knock-out wife Rita Hayworth...that's Elsa Bannister to you.

I'll let you read the plot at the link above. It's a good summary. Better yet see the movie for yourself if you haven't yet. (Any movie with a quirky guy named George Grisby has got to have something going for it...) But it's the final scene, in the fun house, that everybody remembers this film for. It features Welles and Sloane and Hayworth in a hall of mirrors....trying to sort out who double-crossed whom...and to figure out who's going to get shot first....and what that might mean to who gets left...

You can get burned in a hall of mirrors....if you don't know what you're doing. (If you're Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth you can also look damn good in the process, even though they'd divorced just before filming started.)

My dad and I were mixing metaphors tonight:

"Karl Rove is an offense guy, he knows how to attack, but he doesn't know the first thing about defense...he always thinks he can fix it later"

"Cheney, he's the one who knows how to surround himself with pawns. Thinks two moves down the board. But he plays conservative...he does too much...he overplays it..fingers his pieces."

"Judith Miller is like the Queen, powerful when hidden, and central, but weak when exposed. A pawn could take her down if she's not looking."

"Fitzgerald, he's all pressure, the slow burn, the running game, let them bring their weakness to you and it becomes your strength. They walk in proud but they leave begging for mercy"

I keep coming back to the hall of mirrors. I see the whole lot of them shooting like mad at their intended targets and not realizing if what they just saw....or thought they saw...was really there or not. Did Novak try to screw over Miller? (I wonder.) Did Wilson set up Cheney for a slow burn? (It makes one think.) Was Rove like Welles...thinking he was bad ass...when he was really the last-to-know in a game of long knives? (Who knows?) Does Fitzgerald have it all figured out, or is he maybe more Michael O'Hara than we think? (Mebbe, mebbe not.) Is Colin Powell the guy who gave everyone just enough rope...and let them sink in their own lies if they chose to? (Hmmm.)

When I see Judith Miller, I can't help but think of Anjelica Huston, playing Lilly Dillon, at the end of Stephen Frears version of Jim Thompson's the Grifters, the feline cat with nine lives...landing on her feet...the survivor who thought five steps ahead and always left herself a way out, even if it was over a dead body.

And that's what my dad and I both came to conclude in our speculations. Tha this isn't just about politics. Something happened we haven't heard about. There's something deeper here that has kept this going and burning.

I think this exchange between Lou Dobbs and John Dean gave a hint of it. As Dean replies to Dobbs...there's something in what got redacted by the judges who decided to hold Miller in contempt that made this case so serious:

DOBBS: The idea here, though, that we don't even know whether a crime has been committed. We don't know what in the world takes two years to investigate about what is pretty much a straightforward leak. And we have a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, who is not being exactly treated like [Bob] Woodward and [Carl] Bernstein [of The Washington Post] here for her role. In point of fact, she is the only -- at this point -- clear victim in this entire proceeding. Your thoughts?

DEAN: No question. It's a travesty that she's in jail at this point and she's protecting some source, who is not in jail or who is not even fessing up to relieve her of that responsibility.

But you know, there are a lot of potentials here that -- how this may unwind, and the reason I think the fact that there's more to happen, is that when I read the opinion of Judge Hogan in the contempt proceeding, and I read the court of appeals decision of Judge Tatel.

DOBBS: [U.S. District] Judge [James] Hogan, the judge who sentenced Judith Miller for contempt.

DEAN: Correct. And Judge [David] Tatel was on the appellate court that reviewed that decision before it went to the Supreme Court, and both of them have looked at the sealed record. And in that record, which they redacted in their opinion, but in their look at it they said this case is not where it started; it has made a dramatic turn, and this information that is now being requested by this special counsel, [Patrick] Fitzgerald, is needed.


At the end of the day, this story starts and ends exactly where Redd Hedd pointed to last night in the essay Why this Matters.

To that I would add...that this story ends and begins in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay as well...in what went on the White House in the aftermath of the attacks on 9/11....and the cynical decision to use the deaths of thousands of Americans as leverage to achieve a completely unrelated agenda.

This isn't over till that hall of mirrors is shattered.

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1 Comments:

  • You know, I wrote a Got Milk! commercial featuring a hall of mirrors. Once the main character puts his milk down, he can't find it for all the reflections. I'm jealous that it wasn't your reference here.

    It had a stuffed monkey in it. It must be you hate monkeys.

    (cf. Dragon, the Bruce Lee Story, which was my source for the commercial. Also Goldfinger, I believe.)

    By Blogger djangone, at 9:28 PM  

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