At the end of David Grubin‘s LBJ, the landmark 1991 documentary about the tragic story of Lyndon Johnson, historian Ronnie Dugger says that Johnson “was just interesting as hell. I mean, you know, compared to most people who kind of go through life vainly, making their dreadful moral points of condemning this or hoping for that or scratching the back of their head, Lyndon really moved. He was moving all the time. The few times I was with him, it was — he was just fun to be around.
“And you liked him. You liked him. I liked him when I was with him more than I did when I was thinking about him…heh-heh.”
It struck me last night that the dual worlds of politics and the film industry are overflowing with people of this type. Slick operators who are quite likable and charming and have really gotten around and seen the world and learned about human behavior first-hand — people you always enjoy talking to, hanging with and are always waving to at parties — but when you take a couple of steps back and seriously consider what they do, what they’ve done and what they’re actually about, you can’t help but go “hmmmm.”
I for one love morally or ethically dubious people who are walking energy forces as long as they’re not sexually molesting children or serving as concentration- camp guards. I love wit, energy, color and intensity of spirit, and while I respect virtue, principle and goodness I’ve never been very enamoured of people who embody these traits. The truth is that I tend to like right-wing guys as people, in part because they tend to shoot straighter than liberals. I just can’t stand their beliefs and alliances. I’d probably be okay with Bill O’Reilly over beers.