Quick-wit­ted, cool Hil­lary would im­press Hitch­cock

Austin American-Statesman - - BALANCED VIEWS - From the left Mon­day Tues­day Wed­nes­day Thurs­day Dowd writes forthe New York Times. Fri­day Satur­day Sun­day

Al­fred

Hitch­cock was a bit of a sadist. Cer­tainly, the master of the dark side had “a mur­der­ous fas­ci­na­tion with blondes,” as the Bri­tish Film In­sti­tute once noted in a trib­ute.

And now comes Hol­ly­wood’s mur­der­ous fas­ci­na­tion with Hitch­cock’s mur­der­ous fas­ci­na­tion.

HBO’s “The Girl” de­picts the mak­ing of “The Birds” and “Marnie,” with Toby Jones play­ing Hitch and Si­enna Miller play­ing Tippi He­dren, fight­ing off ra­pa­cious birds and ra­pa­cious di­rec­tor at the same time.

In the­aters, “Hitch­cock,” with An­thony Hop­kins as the au­teur and He­len Mir­ren as his wife and col­lab­o­ra­tor, Alma Reville, de­picts the mak­ing of “Psy­cho,” with Scar­lett Jo­hans­son tak­ing Janet Leigh’s place in the shower to be stabbed by that crazed mama’s boy Norman Bates.

Next spring, A&E will run “Bates Mo­tel,” a prequel se­ries to “Psy­cho,” fea­tur­ing a young, creepy Norman, with Vera Farmiga as his (blond) mother.

Why the fresh fas­ci­na­tion with the man with the fa­mous pro­file? Per­haps the more Hol­ly­wood churns out ran­cid movies, the more it ap­pre­ci­ates Hitch, who never got an Os­car.

Hitch­cock’s fetish for “Nordic” women, as he called them, started in his 1927 silent film “The Lodger: A Story of the Lon­don Fog,” about a Jackthe-Rip­per-style lu­natic. He had his brunet lead ac­tress don a blond wig, and he made all the se­rial killer’s vic­tims blondes.

As Don­ald Spoto wrote in his book “Spell­bound by Beauty,” Hitch pre­ferred blondes be­cause he saw them as “eas­ier and more dra­matic to pho­to­graph in mono­chrome, and he con­sid­ered their ‘cool­ness’ and el­e­gance ap­pro­pri­ate con­trasts to the kind of pas­sion he wanted to re­veal be­neath the sur­face.”

Hitch’s blondes came in two shades: the ones, like Leigh in “Psy­cho” and Kim No­vak in “Ver­tigo,” who were sexy and du­plic­i­tous vic­tims doomed to die in spine-tin­gling ways, and those, like In­grid Bergman in “Spell­bound” and “No­to­ri­ous,” Grace Kelly in “To Catch a Thief” and “Rear Win­dow,” and Eva Marie Saint in “North by North­west,” who were sexy and sneaky sur­vivors.

Speak­ing of Amer­i­can blond ob­ses­sions, Hil­lary Clin­ton could qual­ify as a Hitch­cock lead­ing lady. Hil­lary is quick­wit­ted and cool, and we never know ex­actly what she’s plot­ting as spec­u­la­tion froths about 2016.

Scot Le­high

Paul Krug­man

Dana Milbank

Mau­reen Dowd

While Repub­li­cans con­tinue their full-cry pur­suit of Su­san Rice, the ac­tual sec­re­tary of state has eluded blame, even though Beng­hazi is her re­spon­si­bil­ity. The as­sault hap­pened on Hil­lary’s watch, at her con­sulate, with her am­bas­sador. Given that we fig­ured out a while ago that the Arab Spring could be per­ilous as well as promis­ing, why hadn’t the State De­part­ment devel­oped new norms for se­cu­rity in that part of the world?

In the best tra­di­tion of “The Lady Van­ishes,” Hil­lary sagely dodged the Sun­day talk shows that Septem­ber morn­ing. She knew it would get messy, given that those killed in­cluded an am­bas­sador who had writ­ten in his di­ary about be­ing on an al-Qaida hit list and two former Navy SEALs who worked for the CIA.

It’s pos­si­ble Repub­li­cans lam­bast­ing Rice (some neo­cons much pre­fer her in­ter­ven­tion­ism to John Kerry’s brand of di­plo­macy) see tor­pe­do­ing her as an an­ti­dote to their re­cent rout­ing, a chance to con­vey that they still have juice against a pres­i­dent who has the whip hand in fis­cal cliff ne­go­ti­a­tions.

They re­gard Rice as the staffer she was be­fore she as­cended to the United Na­tions — too po­lit­i­cal, not big enough for the lofty post of sec­re­tary of state.

There are sus­pi­cions in po­lit­i­cal cir­cles that neg­a­tive press about Rice might also be coming from Clin­ton­world, where some still re­sent her. Rice was an as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state in the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion but de­fected to Obama’s 2008 cam­paign, ac­cus­ing Hil­lary of get­ting “crit­i­cal judg­ments” about Iraq and Iran wrong.

It took Hil­lary a month to de­fend Rice on Beng­hazi, and it took un­til Wed­nes­day — more than two months af­ter the at­tacks on Rice be­gan — for Hil­lary to ut­ter the tepid en­dorse­ment: “Su­san Rice has done a great job as our am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions.”

Washington man­darins marvel at the cool blonde of Foggy Bot­tom and won­der whether she’s en­joy­ing watch­ing Rice walk the plank. As one put it, com­par­ing the smooth Hil­lary and the rough-el­bowed Rice: “Hil­lary’s smart enough to know not to jump on board a dam­aged ves­sel. It’s a good con­trast be­tween a woman who knows how to nav­i­gate the power struc­ture of Washington and some­one who’s not quite there.”

A blonde who’s a canny sur­vivor, cool un­der pres­sure. Hitch­cock would ap­prove.

Gail Collins

John Young

Leonard Pitts

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