July 1, 2006


'Elvis diplomacy' a hit with Japanese leader (Alec Russell, 01/07/2006, Daily Telegraph)

The world has become accustomed to unconventional diplomatic routines. There has been panda diplomacy and ping-pong diplomacy. Jack Straw and Condoleezza Rice have inaugurated "courtship" diplomacy. Yesterday Mr Bush unveiled Elvis diplomacy, as he became the first sitting president to visit Graceland.

Since the Japanese leader pointed at the cowboy-boot wearing Mr Bush at their first meeting, five years ago yesterday, and said "High Noon", the two have hit it off.

The White House staff had clearly done their homework. On that first encounter at Camp David, Mr Bush gave his visitor a poster of Gary Cooper. Mr Koizumi returned to the theme in his after-dinner speech at the White House on Thursday, when he said: "I see the image of the United States as Gary Cooper in my favourite movie, High Noon. Marshal Cooper stood up alone against four outlaw men. However, the United States is not alone when facing the evils that exist today."

High Noon is the ideal metaphor because Will Kane selflessly does for the townfolk what they will not do for themselves, indeed, what they resent him for doing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 1, 2006 8:34 AM

I hope the metaphor doesn't play out as Gary Cooper took off his Sherriff's badge and left town in disgust after the 'baddies' were killed.

Posted by: ligneus at July 1, 2006 9:16 AM

We always do.

Posted by: oj at July 1, 2006 10:34 AM

I think that was Clinton's favorite movie too. But I also think it's more fitting for Bush.

Actually, maybe the Bush presidency can inpsire a new western. The man who defends the town while half the people insist he's the real villian.

Posted by: RC at July 1, 2006 1:08 PM


That is High Noon.

Posted by: oj at July 1, 2006 1:13 PM

Having Priscilla and Lisa Marie give the PM a private tour was a nice touch, too.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at July 1, 2006 1:36 PM

OJ, the townspeople don't want him stirring up trouble in what they think is a losing proposition. They are grateful at the end and are shamed by the sheriff when he quits and leaves. The left think Bush is the villian. There's a difference.

Posted by: RC at July 1, 2006 7:43 PM

What's the difference?

Posted by: oj at July 1, 2006 8:31 PM


Posted by: Sandy P at July 1, 2006 10:41 PM

...there's a pretty little thing
waitin' for the King
down in the Jungle Room...

Posted by: oj at July 2, 2006 9:22 AM

Now forgive me if I'm a pixel hog, but I first came across this on this very blog. It is from October 2002, just before Bush went to the UN on I guess a last ditch and futile effort to get them on board for enforcing their own sanctions.

I wish I had the original link.



In fact, to day will be the real-life doppelganger of the scene in the film 'High Noon' where Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) goes to the chapel to rally the townsfolk to help him fight off Frank Miller and his gang. Kane, like America itself, is a reluctant warrior. He's recently married, ready to settle down and enjoy the good life, in the mistaken belief that evil has been purged from the town. But with his nemesis returning, he knows his duty and he's prepared to do it, even if it costs him the love of his pacifist wife, Amy (Fowler) Kane (Grace Kelly). Now he just needs help and he's certain that the town that he'd made safe, secure, and prosperous will be prepared to repay the favor. Instead, of course, the citizens are too terrified to lend a hand. Some even seem to welcome the idea that this righteous hero will get his comeuppance--better the dastardly Frank Miller than the Marshall, whose by the very nature of his being is a living rebuke to their self-absorption.

Kane's initial disbelief turns to disgust, which is only exacerbated as his deputy makes material demands in exchange for his assistance (Russia), his former lover scorns him (Canada, France, and Germany) and members of the last posse that helped bring Miller in bail out on him (the Sauds, etc.).
And he is caused great pain as his new wife (anti-war Americans) determines to leave town without him, rather than accept violence. He loves her and her Quaker ethics are real, but still he has to do what he knows is right. His only willing helper is a man we're given to believe must have once been a worthy lawman, but is now a shaky, though courageous, drunk, with residual memories of faded glory--he's willing but unfortunately no longer of much use (Britain hasn't quite fallen this far yet, but it's close). So Kane must face evil nearly alone and save his society in spite of itself.

One of the important elements here is that we can understand the reluctance of the prosperous populace, which has been softened by the reign of civilization, to take on Miller and his gang. The men have married, have businesses, and homes and children--they've much to lose. Meanwhile, the oppressive evil that Miller represents is rather speculative and, after all, Kane is there to do the dirty work for them. When the wives plead with their husbands to stay home and stay safe, we may disagree, but we comprehend the impulse. They aren't necessarily bad people; they're just short-sighted. But when the final battle comes a very few will be forced to face their delusions, particularly Amy Kane, who realizes in the end that regardless of her beliefs evil is real and a good man, her husband, may succumb to it unless she helps. In much the same way, one suspects that those in America who counsel caution (the Times, the Democrats, etc.) will recognize once the shooting starts that what is at stake is that which they, in their heart of hearts, love--freedom, democracy, and the decenct society we've all built together. No, we may doubt it now, but Amy will be by our side. (Oops, or maybe not. a.x.)

Finally, as in the movie, we can have no doubt how the story ends: America, like Gary Cooper, triumphs; good beats evil. This is not a final triumph by any means, for evil is eternal. But we know well the cost of leaving it unchecked; soon the Frank Millers are running the town and the rest of us are cringing in fear.

And as we watch the whole drama unfold, we look at the Germans and Canadians and the rest and we see their secret shame at leaving to be fought by others a battle that is rightly theirs too. We can always find reasons not to fight, but we can't always live with ourselves afterwards. Sooner or later such craven cowardice must eat away at the soul.

And as Marshal Kane leaves the chapel tomorrow we'll know that the question is not whether Frank Miller is a threat, but only who will fight the evil he represents. Who will risk their comfort to vindicate the beliefs that brought that comfort? Who still believes, as the enemies certainly do, that some ideas are worth fighting, even dying, for?

As High Noon approaches, will our friends and neighbors join us? Or will we hear only the sound of bolting doors and windows being shuttered?

Posted by: Andrew X at July 2, 2006 1:13 PM

OK, I'm an idiot, didn't see the link OJ posted at the bottom.

Please hurl rotting vegetables at me as desired.

Posted by: Andrew X at July 2, 2006 3:03 PM