It’s hard to imagine a better poster-boy for a bumbling foreign policy that leaves copious wreckage in its wake than good ol’ Mr. Magoo. In recent years, an editorial in The New Yorker used the myopic cartoon character as a stand-in for President Bush, and Salon.com presented Mr. Magoo as a convenient analogue for Paul Wolfowitz. Taking a different tack, National Review conflated him with United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix when Blix offered early criticism of the case for war against Saddam Hussein. According to the hawks, Blix’s assessment provided evidence that he “cannot see in front of his nose” WMD-wise.
There is quixotic, and then there is Norman Mailer: the author of numerous best-selling loose, baggy monsters that tackle every important issue and icon of the 20th century, but also a guy who stabbed his second wife (out of six) with a penknife at a party, head-butted Gore Vidal in response to a suggestion that he was violent and ran for mayor of New York City in 1969 on a platform advocating that the city sever itself from the United States. The 84-year-old literary lion has burnished his legend by pursuing every whim to its pathological extreme.
Every faith needs its defender, and no other filmmaker has championed middle-class mediocrity with the religious zeal of Paul Mazursky. Often mistaken for a liberal humanist, Mazursky habitually drops his bourgeois characters into a countercultural fishbowl and then celebrates their inevitable efforts to come up for air. His is the most ideologically conservative body of work ever dedicated to the activity of hippies, dropouts, polygamists, feminists, homosexuals, Hasidim, pedophiles, abortionists, prostitutes, primal scream therapists and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.