Manohla Dargis Tries to Ruin Another Summer Movie Season, Laments 'Symbolic Phallus'

Also, Matt Bai makes his political sympathies in profiles of Newt Gingrich and Mario Cuomo, and a headline suggests it's "ugly" to celebrate the death of a mass terrorist.
Newt Gingrich: He's No Mario Cuomo

"Whatever can Newt Gingrich be thinking? That's the question a lot of political handicappers are asking now that Newt, as he is universally known in Washington, has decided to enter the 2012 campaign, with an announcement expected on Wednesday. Until recently, most of my colleagues assumed that the former speaker of the House, who flirted with running four years ago, was merely doing the same thing now, just to stay in the news. I mean, let's be unsparing about this: Mr. Gingrich has never been elected to anything outside his old Congressional district in Georgia." - Political writer Matt Bai on former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, May 11.


"If you were a kid in the Northeast during the 1980s, as I was, there is something awesome - in the literal sense - about sitting across a desk from Mario Cuomo, even if he now misplaces names and occasionally grasps for the point of an anecdote that has fluttered just out of reach. He was, at that time, the anti-Reagan, a powerful and resonant voice of dissent in the age of "Top Gun" and Alex P. Keaton. Cuomo, Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson were the three titans of the day who seemed to possess the defiance needed to rescue liberalism from obsolescence." - Bai in an April 10 Sunday Magazine profile of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.


Manohla Dargis Tries to Ruin Another Summer Movie Season
, Laments "Symbolic Phallus"

"The summer season brings the usual cavalcade of testosterone-fueled action heroes, including Thor, the Green Lantern, Captain America and Conan the Barbarian. But action-movie derring-do is not always an exclusively male preserve, and in the last year some women and girls - Evelyn Salt, Lisbeth Salander and the lingerie-clad avengers of 'Sucker Punch,' among others - have been shooting and not just clawing their way into macho territory. Is this empowerment or exploitation? Feminism or fetishism?....I just don't believe that scene where her character pulls out a rifle to protect the wagon train's Indian prisoner - or should I say when she takes possession of the symbolic phallus." - Feminist movie critic Manohla Dargis on a violent scene in the Western "Meek's Cutoff."

"Ugly" to Celebrate Mass Terrorist's Death

"Celebrating a Death: Ugly, Maybe, but Only Human." - May 6 headline about Americans cheering the death of Osama bin Laden.

Obama Nabs Osama: 'Glow of National Pride,' But Bush's Capture of Saddam Only 'Momentarily' Halted 'Spiral of Concern'

"Support for President Obama rose sharply after the killing of Osama bin Laden, with a majority now approving of his overall job performance, as well as his handling of foreign policy, the war in Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The glow of national pride seemed to rise above partisan politics, as support for the president rose significantly among both Republicans and independents. In all, 57 percent said they now approved of the president's job performance, up from 46 percent last month." - First two paragraphs of May 5 lead story, "Bin Laden Gives President Big Lift in Poll."


"The capture of Saddam Hussein has lifted Americans' view of the state of the nation and their opinion of President Bush, while at least momentarily halting what had been a spiral of concern about the nation's economic and foreign policy, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. But even in the glow of Mr. Hussein's capture, Americans worry that United States forces will be mired in Iraq for years, are concerned that the attacks on American troops will continue and say that President Bush has no plan to extricate the United States from Iraq, the poll found. And 60 percent of Americans said the United States was as vulnerable to a terrorist attack as it was before Mr. Hussein was pulled from a hole in Ad Dwar." - Story from December 17, 2003, "Bush's Approval Ratings Climb In Days After Hussein's Capture."


New DNC Head One of the "Youngest, Smartest, Funniest, Toughest"

"In less than two weeks, Ms. Wasserman Schultz - mother, wife, Girl Scout leader, legislator, fund-raiser and House vote counter - will add another job to her monumentally orchestrated life. She will become the first woman elected to lead the Democratic National Committee, a role that requires grit, exaltation and inspiration. At 44, she will be the youngest committee leader in decades....With her trademark curls, Ms. Wasserman Schultz has long been one of the '-est' girls: youngest, smartest, funniest, toughest. Her Democratic colleagues extol her fund-raising prowess, her ease on television and her indefatigability, which is legendary among her colleagues." - From Lizette Alvarez's April 25 profile. (Wasserman Schultz is actually the second woman to head the DNC, not the first.)


"The conspiracy theories were promulgated on the Internet and by fringe publishers in the early days of the Obama presidency, and they were encouraged by right-wing radio and television hosts and, more recently, by Donald J. Trump, who is toying with a Republican run for president." - Media reporter Brian Stelter, April 28. As Politico reported, the theory first emerged in the spring of 2008, with Clinton supporters circulating an email questioning Obama's citizenship.

Tea Party Politicians' 'Incendiary Remarks,' 'Hard-Right' Stands

"But the most compelling part of Representative Allen B. West of Florida is his own biography, there for all to see: an African-American Tea Party activist Republican congressman and ally of hard-right Israelis who, after his beloved career in the Army ended under a cloud, defeated the sitting Democrat in a largely white, politically polarized district here and quickly became one of the right's most visible spokesmen....frequently featured on the Fox News Channel and in other conservative settings where he enjoys explaining, reiterating or unleashing any number of incendiary remarks concerning what he often calls 'the other side.'" - Reporter Jennifer Steinhauer, April 29.


The Dark Side of Captain Crunch

"By explicitly tying advertising to childhood obesity, the government is suggesting there is a darker side to cuddly figures like Cap'n Crunch, the Keebler elves, Ronald McDonald and the movie and television characters used to promote food." - Business reporter William Neuman, April 29.



Times Extols Gov. Moonbeam's "Command of Facts" and "Mental Acuity"

"Brown proceeded to answer the reporters' questions with a display of self-confident humor and a command of facts, history and language that befits a man in the eighth decade of his life, as he likes to describe himself....None of this is to say Brown is undisciplined. From speeches to news conferences to meetings with lawmakers, he has meticulously made his case for solving the state's budget crisis....Eighth decade or not, Brown's mental acuity can be imposing." - Adam Nagourney May 8 Sunday Magazine story.


Oh Joy: "Deliberate, Almost Scholarly" Obama Gleaning Foreign Policy Ideas From Columnist Friedman

"At night in the family residence, an adviser said, Mr. Obama often surfs the blogs of experts on Arab affairs or regional news sites to get a local flavor for events. He has sounded out prominent journalists like Fareed Zakaria of Time magazine and CNN and Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist at The New York Times, regarding their visits to the region....This deliberate, almost scholarly, approach is in keeping with Mr. Obama's style, one that has frustrated people who believe he is too slow and dispassionate." - Reporter Mark Landler, May 12.