Stone’s Unexpectedly Empathetic ‘ W ‘

Stone’s new flick is surprisingly balanced, even sympathetic. Think an over long contemporary SNL skit, albeit with sharper writing. W here has pathos. He is often a passive reactor to events, especially those he himself sets in motion.

We’ll let you decide whether Stone made a ‘good’ movie. As a rule, we don’t care for most Stone movies. ‘Wall Street’ is perhaps the notable exception. The inevitable comparison to ‘W’ will be with Stone’s earlier ‘Nixon’. As Stone himself says and we agree, there really are no comparisons — he clearly did not feel constrained by boundaries of form when making ‘W’.

One reason? So much leaked in the last 2 years from this most secretive of regimes. The Warlord’s actions are accepted consensus truth. Impeachment now is a formalism. Global judgment already is both fact and truth. Second, in Stone’s telling, W’s tragic flaws are more forgivable. The man himself is so genially banal. Nixon by contrast possessed infinitely greater skills and correspondingly more dangerous *capacity* for darkness.

Stone’s movie provides enough characterization and factual detail for strong partisans of all viewpoints. We could imagine almost all emerging from a theater amused, ready to argue points over a beer or three. Why? Because in a strange and possibly unintended way, Stone exonerates W from culpabilities.

This shifts the key debate to who is the most venal in the Warlord’s retinue. The script sticks to actual quotes and facts even if composited from different meetings or places to maintain dramatic flow. Each historical character by necessity is a moving sketch. Stone continues the Left’s bizarre infatuation with General Jello Powell. Here, General Jello is given a wholly undeserved ‘presence’ and personal backbone. The Left’s school yard crush is beyond tiresome, it’s stale. Cher Condi is depicted with pitch perfect detail and historical accuracy. Even her amen chorus in the Imperial City will be deflated knowing that her efforts to airbrush away 2001-2005 will be for naught. Richard Dreyfuss as Cheney gives his most wickedly funny role in our opinion since ‘Moon Over Parador’. Finally we laughed out loud when our old acquaintance Steve Cambone gets a shout out.

The movie’s climax is understandably Iraq and the immediate fall out. Stone choreographs missing WMDs, David Kay’s resignation and bitter recriminations swirling around a puzzled and frustrated W. Inter-staff quips, snide comments and ducking of responsibilities are shown in historically accurate and entertaining detail. The Stiftung could not help but feel that with a few slight changes the same would portray Cheney’s machinations hiding DoJ’s opposition to surveillance and other Cheney/Addington initiatives.

The movie ends abruptly. When the lights came on, Rachel Maddow’s demographic clapped and hollered. We shared the general sense of thumbs up but left in a different place than the Maddow types. Our reaction on the fade out of Stone’s W the man surprised us. For him, we felt pity.


  1. Comment says

    The recriminations are gonnna be awesome to watch – The blame-Palin faction vs. the faux-rustics and the Palinistas is just one angle.

    Has Perle endorsed Obama yet?

  2. DrLeoStrauss says

    What to say? As we’ve all discussed here from the beginning at STSOZ 1.0, Tom Davis might as well be Saul Alinsky to them. His delusion was thinking that the Party and the Movement were sufficiently distinct and different.

    The Movement isn’t going anywhere and will congeal and re-energize itself with more myths and imagined slights, etc. A Boy King regime will supply the negative energy needed in spades.

    The question is whether there is enough distinct human capital and institutional memory left in the Republican Party to let that institution re-assess and recover on its own, independent of the Movement. Our view is that the Republican Party is a shoddy Universal back lot facade.

    As we’ve chatted here, the Host entity, the Party, has been consumed. The principle lesson drawn? Failure and rejection is because of incompetence rather than any fundamental flaw in the political and social program. (They will ignore or choose to misunderstand that the incompentence is also a direct manifestation and requirement of the program). Oddly, in this delusional narrative, Stone helps them along.

  3. Comment says

    Judy Miller was destined for a comeback. Moody alludes to her resume and that’s such not the reason she is being hired.

    Miller must have lots of dirt and contacts that will come in handy.

    Hey – we just read McCain’s Pfouthaur (sp?) says McCain is winning in “real Virginia” – Ha, McCain has bad luck with his female spokespeople. Obama can probably net and extra point or two in Virginia if he exploits the gaffe right.

    Do you think Tom Davis appreciates that kind of remark?

  4. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Back in Action

    Fox News is expected to announce today the hiring of a new contributor, a veteran national security correspondent who has shared a Pulitzer Prize.

    Her name is Judith Miller, and she is nothing if not controversial. Miller left the New York Times in 2005 after testifying in the trial of former White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby that he had leaked her information about a CIA operative. Miller’s conduct in the case, which led to her serving 85 days in jail for initially refusing to testify, drew rebukes from the Times executive editor and some of her colleagues.

    In the run-up to the Iraq war, Miller reported stories on the search for Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be untrue, some of which were cited in a Times editor’s note acknowledging the flawed coverage. Miller, now with the conservative Manhattan Institute, wrote when she left the paper that she had “become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war.”

    Miller will be an on-air analyst and will write for Fox’s Web site. “She has a very impressive résumé,” says Senior Vice President John Moody. “We’ve all had stories that didn’t come out exactly as we had hoped. It’s certainly something she’s going to be associated with for all time, and there’s not much anyone can do about that, but we want to make use of the tremendous expertise she brings on a lot of other issues. . . . She has explained herself and she has nothing to apologize for.

    (Howie Putz, WaPo)

  5. DrLeoStrauss says

    General Jello’s relevance in 2008 is yet another sign of Heaven’s infinite humor.

    We’ve always been puzzled by the president/clearance issue. By the time a candidate gets enough presence to to be a viable candidate, makes it through primaries and then a general election, the opportunities for vetting, disclosure, etc. are far more invasive and extensive than a personal security investigation.

    If we recall the lame BQ ’92 efforts against Bubba, they attempted to link his ‘Leftist’ (how ironic, he is the best Republican President since Reagan) background/Oxford time with a trip to Moscow.

    It’s all to laugh. Top level Republicans for years who viewed (and still view privately) McCain as Anti-Christ would whisper he was vulnerable to the ‘Queen of Hearts’ (Manchurian Candidate).

  6. Comment says

    Powell endorsed Obama! Politico and WaPo said Powell’s reputation are impeccable and unimpeachable!

    Anyway – listening to c-span a right wing caller calls in mad that Michelle Obama quoted “Ayers” book “Rules for Radicals” – Obviously the gentleman is confusing his direct mail or his newsmax updates and mistaking Ayers for Alinsky – But the actual quote Michelle used was that increasingly cliche aeschylus quote RFK co-opted. Btw, Tweety still does not correct people who come in his show and say Obama “worked with” Alinsky. It probably helps Obama because it distracts the McCain forces with ghosts. But it is annoying.
    Anyway so this caller said Obama would probably not be able to get into the Bureau because of backround checks – That may be true – Recall, that was a popular attack
    against Clinton in 1992 (How can you elect Clinton as Prez, he can’t get a security clearance – fast forward to the Livingstone shennagins/travel office etc).
    It maybe that an army of Andy McCarthys would stand in his way – But this has been a stumbling block for lots of highly qualified college students getting into gov – if you weren’t in college Republicans at Fordham or Texas A&M , you’re viewed as a communist.

  7. Comment says

    Btw – why does La Noonan think McCain “scored” Obama for being well spoken? Isn’t that the kind of anti-intellectualism she loathes from Palin?

    IMO – Noonan is engaged in “bargaining” as a pundit – She has to throw some bones to the old dog merely to maintain her creds as conservative. But her catfight with Palin just confirms her elite status as a pundit.

  8. Comment says

    La Noonan does not believe one bit of what she writes here about the debates – The polling was not even close – As much as John King and others tried to swing the debate for McCain, it was never close – Obama won the snap polls and he won more with the repeat youtube clips etc.

    Obama was all three debates handily by polling. Gallup has all the summaries.

    McCain did have a win (IMO) over Obama at the Al Smith dinner.

    “John McCain won the debate, and he did it by making the case more effectively than he has in the past that Barack Obama will raise taxes, when “now, of all times in America, we need to cut people’s taxes.” He also scored Mr. Obama on his eloquence, using it against him more effectively than Hillary Clinton ever did. When she said he was “just words,” it sounded like a bitter complaint. Mr. McCain made it a charge: Young man, you attempt to obscure truth with the mellifluous power of your words. From Mrs. Clinton it sounded jealous, but when Mr. McCain said it, you looked at Mr. Obama and wondered if you’d just heard something that was true. For the first time, Mr. Obama’s unruffled demeanor didn’t really work for him. His cool made him seem hidden.” (La Noonan)

  9. Comment says

    Tweety has been worried about this movie for quite some time – He even objected, in principle, to the idea Stone should get funding.

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