“Bryan inaugurated an era in which style and sentiment would trump substance, personal charisma would trump intellect or ideas, and pious moralizing would trump social consciousness. Politicians of the Gilded Age had remained aloof from the public, relying on printed broadsides, entrenched partisan loyalties and local organization. Bryan invented the glad-handing, ‘happy warrior’ style of the modern political campaign, crisscrossing the country tirelessly by rail and delivering countless speeches to crowds large and small. (It has often been observed that if radio or television had existed in Bryan’s day, he would have beaten the drab McKinley or pretty much anyone else.)” Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir reviews Michael Kazin’s A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan, and argues that the legacy of the Great Commoner’s brand of populism is less sanguine than Kazin makes it out to be. Still, I’m looking forward to checking out Kazin’s book.
“V for Vendetta may be–why hedge? is–the most subversive cinematic deed of the Bush-Blair era, a dagger poised in midair. Unlike the other movies dubbed ‘controversial’ (Fahrenheit 9-11, The Passion, Munich, Syriana), it doesn’t play to a particular constituency or polarized culture bloc, it’s working on a deeper, Edgar Allan Poe-ish witch’s brew substrata of pop myth.” Vanity Fair‘s James Wolcott seems to really like V for Vendetta. (Via Blivet.)
More James Cameron news: Harry of AICN has a wide-ranging conversation with the director which, if you can get past the usual Knowlesisms, reveals that Project 880 is in fact Avatar, and that Cameron has been working with NASA on a “Live Video Stereo Motion Image” (3-D) camera for the next Mars Rover.
“Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week’s bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad’s main morgue.” While the Iraqi cabinet disputes the 1300 figure as “inaccurate and exaggerated,” the news from Baghdad is still tragic and horrifying: After the bombing of the Golden Mosque last week, Iraq appears to be in freefall, with 68 more casualties just today, and civil war looms. Dubya’s response so far: Civil war won’t happen, and, if it does, it’s y’all’s problem.
Lots of Co. points the way to a fun timekiller: the MyHeritage Facial Recognition Analyzer, wherein you can compare a photo of yourself with their celebrity database. To be honest, the results seem kinda arbitrary. I tried three pics and never got the same result. In fact, I got:
So, I seem to look androgynous and hobbitlike…but, hey, at least Anthony Michael Hall didn’t come up.
In response to a GOP bill prohibiting gay adoption, Ohio State Senator Robert Hagan proposes a bill to ban adoption by Republicans. “To further lampoon Hood’s bill, Hagan wrote in his mock proposal that ‘credible research’ shows that adopted children raised in Republican households are more at risk for developing ’emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities.’” (By way of Do You Feel Loved.)
“Scooter Libby has a Web site. He’s not running for office, but the site makes it looks like he is. The lead picture on the front page shows him with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Other snapshots portray him in soft focus and at oblique angles, the kinds of images candidates use to make themselves look more huggable.” Slate‘s John Dickerson evaluates the web presence of the Libby Legal Defense Trust (put together by Scooter’s big-ticket friends), and what it tells us about Libby’s probable defense strategy.