A recent White House occupant fancies himself as a cowboy, only it’s not Dubya, but, according to the London Daily Telegraph (this is where it’s available in September 2007) it’s the Sensitive-90s-Dad-In-Chief.
I loathe armchair psychology, but seeing a single movie 30 times in eight years is *so* unnatural that it’s hard not to speculate. Eisenhower and Bush 2.0 have each seen HIGH NOON also, but only three times and once respectively (and Ike was president when the movie was new fercryinoutloud). It’s not unusual for a professional critic or a really hard-core CINEMANIA-caliber film geek to see a film that often — my records are seeing THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER 12 times in two years (but then none in the next eight) and THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS 22 times (but over almost 15 years). But this is the guy so intent on saving the world from The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy and getting Osama bin Laden in December 2000 that he didn’t have time to notice the Rose Law Firm billing records, the raw FBI files on Washington’s top Republicans or any of that. And he was so focused lake a laser beam on the economy and Bosnia that he vulnerable to the stalking of cigar-wielding interns (especially while discussing Bosnia). How did he find the time to see a movie 30 times?
Numerous critics have long noted how HIGH NOON is “really” an anti-McCarthy allegory of the lone man abandoned by others’ cowardice in the fight against evil. Does it not seem typical of Clinton that he would see HIGH NOON 30 times? Maybe he just loves the movie, but it would be entirely consistent with what we know of Clinton’s self-dramatizing and narcissistic personality that he’d see himself as a lone defender of right, a modern-day Gary Cooper headed for a showdown with the black-hatted trio of Gingrich, Hyde and Starr. To give another example of the same phenomenon, he once explained some stretch of ineffectuality in an interview with The Washington Post by quoting from Chapter 6 of Macchiavelli’s THE PRINCE about the difficulties of “founding a new order of things,” thereby implicitly comparing Hillarycare, the moter-voter bill, gays in the military and Midnight basketball to (some of the examples Macchiavelli uses) Romulus founding Rome and Moses leading the Israelites into the Holy Land. The good St. Nick has a lot to teach us about politics, but that be wack.
Further, the choice of *that* Western, as opposed to, say, STAGECOACH or THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE or the Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns, is also instructive in terms of what it says about Clinton’s self-image and that of a significant swatch of Boomer public opinion (and Clinton is nothing if not the blue-state ego-ideal of his generation). When Europeans-in-place and Europeans-in-spirit call Dubya (or America in general) a cowboy, they’re referring, however accurately, to a certain image — an impetuous, dashing, ruthless taste for violence. Yosemite Sam basically. But Will Kane is a different kind of Western hero, one more acceptable to Our Sensitive Era — tortured, alone, only resorting to violence by clear-and-present necessity. And he even gets bailed out at the end by his wife …