For anyone who felt that Kerry was grossly mistreated by the so-called "Swift Boat Vets for Truth", the group that sunk the Kerry campaign in '04, then you should take a look at this clip. It's long and it doesn't really start getting fun until a few minutes in, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Kerry's icy prosecutorial skills come out on someone who really deserves it.
The clip shows John Kerry questioning a Bush nominee for an ambassadorship on Tuesday the 27th of February. Turns out this nominee gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat group back in '04. As far as I can tell, it's the first (and likely only) opportunity Kerry has had to confront one of these guys. True, this dumb schmuck wasn't the one doing the slandering, but he helped finance it, which is pretty bad. What's best about the clip is that the guy is just as craven and mealy-mouthed as you'd expect a Bushie Republican hack financier to be. He calls Kerry a "hero" to his face, but when asked if he would condemn the Swift Boaters who called that heroism into question, he demures and says that kind of tactic was necessary, because "the other side was doing it, too." He also can't recall actually giving the Swifties the $50,000. "When asked for money," he says, "I usually just give." Seriously.
He cites the "Bush is Hitler" MoveOn.org ad that a member created and which MoveOn posted up on its site as an example of the terrible negative stuff "the other side" was doing in the '04 election. That's really the best this guy can come up with. A stupid user-created ad that MoveOn pulled off their site within hours of it going up. I'm sure it put a lot of people firmly in the Kerry camp. Anyway. It's a wonder Kerry didn't so much as raise his voice at the guy.
On a slightly related note, Bill Kristol, oh he of odious Neocon fame, has been railing against HuffingtonPost recently. Not because of anything the site itself posted, but rather because of things the readers posted up in the comments section. When Vice-President Cheney was supposedly the target of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan the other day, some readers chimed in with their sincere and inarticulately-worded regret that the bomber hadn't been successful. (I didn't actually read the comments on political blogs. Who does? So many whackos.) So Kristol blasts Huffingtonpost based on these comments, in effect characterizing Arianna Huffington as a leader of the pro-assassination left. Does it get any more intellectually dishonest? I wonder what we'd find if we trolled some of the comments on the righty blogs? My guess is I'd find as much illiterate vitriol there as anywhere. Andrew Sullivan has a moderate conservative's take on it here. Ugh. I used to think Kristol was a conservative in the David Brooks mold, that is a fairly reasonable person, but Iraq and his unceasing warmongering ever since we went in have put him squarely into the dangerously delusional knee-jerk Coulterian whacko stratosphere.
Anyway. Watched "The Departed" again yesterday. [I'm going to talk about this movie as if everyone's seen it, so alert: SPOILERS AHEAD!]
Just amazing. Every scene is so smart and thought-out and inventive. I forgot how often Scorsese played with the score (or the "scorce" as David McHugh called it). Some Irish song would be going full blast and then Matt Damon starts dialing his cell phone and the song cuts out like Thelma hit the Stop button on the CD player. It's as if, every now and again, Scorsese wants to remind you that these people are actors and the story is made-up -- in other words, he wants to remind you you're watching a movie. One of the few guys making movies who'll take little risks like that, just to see how they'll go. One thing I appreciated more on the second go-round was how artfully Monahan and Scorsese set up Sheen's character as a kindly paternal anchoring presence in the film - they do it to a.) balance out Mark Wahlberg's abrasive character, but mostly to b.) make his death really sting. In a way Sheen's death echoes Gandalf's "death" in the first "Lord of the Rings" movie. In each case the death of the kindly, powerful, knowledgeable character that everyone really liked makes the audience feel acutely how solitary the path is the hero has to take for the duration of the film. An excellent device and a great script. Of the nominees I'd say Monahan absolutely deserved Best Screenplay and Scorsese deserved Best Director for that movie. Good stuff. (Though watching it again I see a little more clearly the things that irked me about Nicholson's performance. The rat-pantomiming thing he does in the last bar scene, for example. I wish Scorsese had done a few more takes here and there, or at least used less over-the-top, hammy takes in the finished film. Ah well. Nothing's perfect.)