The formidable Tommy Lee Jones lets go with three choice comments during an interview with 02138‘s Richard Bradley — about Iraq and the draft, righties pushing for the building a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico, and the meaning of the ending of No Country for Old Men.
(1) Draft/Iraq: “About eight months ago, [New York Democratic congressman] Charlie Rangel came out advocating the reinstitution of the draft, and people were shocked. ‘Congressman Rangel,’ they said, ‘why would you argue for the reinstitution of the draft?’ He said, ‘It’s very simple. We have a volunteer army. We’re sending ’em back tour after tour after tour. We’re running our military into the ground, and if we would just reinstitute the draft so that it had some impact on American people — those who don’t do a lot of thinking — this war would be over in six months.’
“[And] think that’s right. We had the draft in ’68, we had a bullshit war, and it ultimately ended. And there were terrific repercussions throughout the government. The Bush administration has escaped those repercussions because the American people have a way to turn their head and say, “It doesn’t really affect my family. My daughter is in no threat of having her legs blown off. My son is in no threat of coming back with no face, no ears, no nose — because he didn’t volunteer.”
“If somebody were making them incur those risks, the votership might change radically.”
(2) Border Fence: “The idea of a fence between El Paso and Brownsville bears all the credibility and seriousness of flying saucers from Mars or leprechauns. Or any manner of malicious, paranoid superstition. In other words, it’s bullshit.
“[You hear the talk] and the talk is worth headlines, the talk is worth attention, and that might lead to votes. It’s a predatory approach to democracy by those who would instill fear and then propose themselves as a solution. It’s very destructive. Very, very destructive. And it’s the perfectly wrong thing to do.
“First of all, it won’t work. You can’t build a fence that I cannot get over, through, or under if I want to go to Mexico. In that [border] country, you cannot do it. It’s a complete folly. Ecologically, it’s a complete disaster, and sociologically, it’s a complete disaster. It’s an act of fascist madness.
“And the people who are being appealed to, the voterships that are removed from that country, are being spoken to as if it’s time to fence their backyard so the stray dog doesn’t get in. ‘Okay, let’s just build a fence.’ That’s as far removed from reality as can be, and entirely cynical by those who would manipulate these people. It’s a sad day for the democratic process to see people manipulated through fear and insecurity.”
(2) About No Country: “So there’s a lot of different ways of thinking about morality, is what we were saying last, and the conventional way is not always the right way. Morality might be bigger than you are. And I think the human being needs — I don’t know if he deserves, but needs — frequent reminders that the world ain’t flat and he’s not living in the center of the universe. I think that’s an important part about the last few moments in the movie.
“You’re asking me now about the last scene, which is essentially a speech by Ed Tom Bell recounting dreams about his father. And you have the feeling that Ed Tom is thinking about hope, about the future, and that no matter what evil might have transpired, or no matter what opportunities were lost for communication between father and son, or between brother and brother, sister and brother, that somewhere off ahead through the darkness and cold there’s a father who carried fire to create a warm place to welcome you. And that keeps you going, because you know he’ll be there.
“And after describing that beautiful picture, Ed Tom says, ‘And then I woke up.’ So, as always with Cormac, the question becomes more important than the answer. Was that dream an illusion or not?”