Liz Smith: Rick Perry … Will He Make Us Re-Think George W. Bush?

And more from our Liz: Tom Cruise at 49 — Still Going Strong … Elvis, the African Idol?

“HE IS George W. Bush without the intelligence and without the ethics!”

So says the perspicacious Texan Jim Hightower of his former opponent, Governor Rick Perry.

He said this on Lawrence O’Donnell’s “The Last Word” show on MSNBC, a TV “must” for insiders.

Mr. Hightower lost to Perry in the smallest voting turnout ever in Texas; only about 33% of Texans bothered to vote. Hightower ran as a Democrat and Democrats seldom win in The Lone Star State.

They say timing is everything in show business and in politics. So my friend, the N.Y Times columnist Gail Collins, is right on time; she had an idea to write about how often Texas has figured in national politics and is researching the book now. With Rick Perry’s candidacy, suddenly, she has the cherry on the sundae.

Gov. Perry will be catnip for deep-seated evangelicals who don’t care to cast their vote for a Mormon. People are already talking Michele Bachmann as Perry’s vice-president! Saints preserve us.

P.S. Perry has already jumped on the president’s patriotism and love of America. When asked if he thinks President Obama loves America, Perry answered, “You’ll have to ask him.” Obama, on CNN, commented to Wolf Blitzer that because Perry was such a new presidential candidate, he’d “give him a pass” on that remark.

The president seems always reserved and above the down and dirty. I think it’s time he took the gloves off.

* * *

SO YOU think I’m just what I am – a yellow-dog Democratic liberal. But let me just say one of my favorite readings is the conservative National Review and its opening short takes. Here’s one I really liked:

“Often, Europeans and American liberals ask why American conservatives have so little respect for the United Nations. Next time they ask, you could tell them this: North Korea is chairing the Conference on Disarmament. If that’s not good enough, you could add this: Iran is a member of the Commission on the Status of Women. That should answer their question.”

* * *

TOM CRUISE is 49, but that’s not slowing him down one little bit. In the next two years, he’ll have four films out. “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” opens this year. Tom is currently filming “Rock of Ages,” in which he’ll debut his singing chops (and still rock-hard abs) and he has “Oblivion” and “One Shot” in pre-production.

The latter film has become controversial. It is based on a novel by Lee Child, and Tom plays the iconic Jack Reacher character. Fans of the novels are furiously objecting to Tom’s casting, but given Mr. Cruise’s famous determination and work ethic, such criticism will simply spur him to do his very best. Tom will have a leading lady in “One Shot” and at least three actresses are testing for the role — Hayley Atwell, Alexa Davalos, and Rosamund Pike. I know, I’ve never heard of them either. (Not quite true, Miss Pike’s name rings a bell.)

This is par for the course in Tom’s long career. He has rarely been matched with a leading lady of equal stature. Perhaps when he started out, they were either too young or too old? And, he’s made a lot of action films and male-bonding movies that don’t require a great lady star. Of course, he’s shared the screen with super-novas like Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman, and even Meryl Streep in “Lions and Lambs” though he and Streep were not romantically involved in that.

Only recently, in “Knight and Day” with Cameron Diaz, was Tom paired with a woman who has some current clout. Renee Zellweger was not a star when she did “Jerry Maguire”… ditto Jeanne Tripplehorn in “The Firm” … Val Kilmer’s scenes with Tom in “Top Gun” had more heat than those with Kelly McGillis Demi Moore seemed incidental but excellent in “A Few Good Men”… Nicole Kidman didn’t become a major star until she and Tom divorced.

I don’t recall who the “love interest” was in “Cocktail.” And Penelope Cruz was not well known in the U.S. when she and Tom did “Vanilla Sky.”

It’s not that Tom isn’t sexy or attractive, but he is at his best playing men in conflict with themselves, tempted to stray ethically, but in the end (usually) doing the right thing. Often, he has a male mentor or nemesis or source of inspiration. Or victim — lest we forget, he turned poor Brad Pitt into a mopey bloodsucker in “Interview With the Vampire,” and tormented Jamie Foxx in “Collateral.”

However, Tom is never less than interesting to observe onscreen, whether he has a lady to play off or not. He is an extremely underrated actor. His performance as Ron Kovic in “Born on the Fourth of July” still stands as one of the most wrenching and genuine turns of his (or any actor’s!) career.

So, good luck Hayley, Alexa or Rosamund. You’ll be working with one of Hollywood’s greatest stars and a super-professional from whom you will learn even more about your craft and how to succeed in business by really trying.

* * *

AUGUST 16th was the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. (So Michele Bachmann got it wrong, saying it was the day of his birth — her heart was in the right place, for a change.)

Speaking of The King, a mask of Elvis is being displayed at the Brooklyn Museum’s current “African Innovations” exhibit. This mask was worn by members of the Nyau, a secret society who live in Malawi. The mask was used for ritualistic ceremonies — coronations, funerals, big dances, etc.

Hmmm…I wonder if these Malawi residents gave up their Elvis mask for one of Madonna? After all, she’s adopted two children from this country, and poured millions into it. I’m sure The Queen of Pop would appreciate — and accept as her due — her image used at coronations.

37 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Lin says:

    Re:  “Cocktail”, I believe it was the lovely Elizabeth Shue

  2. avatar longyanas says:

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  3. avatar sevillomatic says:

    Madonna and Elvis are linked not just by the impoverished country of Malawai- Madonna (the Queen of Pop) was born on Aug 16.
    The King died Aug 16.
    Long live the queen

  4. avatar Jeff Michaels says:

    According to Jim Hightower, he managed to lose an election to an unethical idiot. Maybe Mr. Hightower is not as perspicacious as you think.

  5. avatar Lila says:

    “HE IS George W. Bush without the intelligence and without the ethics!”
    Now THAT is truly frightening, because I didn’t think GWB had either.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Jim Hightower leaves much to be desired to be honest but then most Democrats in Texas do which is why Democrats rarely win in Texas. Some of us natives, as I like to say, can hear a rattlesnake coiling a mile away. This is all Molly Ivins’ fault. First she encouraged Kinky Friedman to run, she in fact told him “Why the hell not?” which became his campaign slogan, and then turned around and told everyone to vote for the Democrat. Had Molly really looked at the Democrat, she would have stuck with Kinky Friedman.  Poitically incorrect jokes and all.

      He’s been a good governor. Made tough decisions in tough times. Lots of things wrong with Texas. Lots of things right with Texas. The former more the result of the legislature than the governor. The latter more the result of the governor. 

      Then he discovered religion. And he basically ended his campaign before he began his campaign. He will not be president even if he manages to become the nominee. He also will not be governor again.  His association with American Family Association was the worst possible association.  Much of his “fervor” in the beginnning was the result of his wanting a little payback for the “gay governor” rumors. Which of course are circulating once more. The vast majority probably don’t care. But the vast majority do care about this “moral minority” wagon that will carry him over a political cliff with the majority of voters. 

      Molly Ivins would be having a field day. Except for American Family Association. It is hard to be humorous about something that is not humorous at all and in fact is quite scary.

      • avatar D C says:

        I was just thinking… wouldn’t it be nice to have Molly Ivans around to comment on all this.

        • avatar joanne in jax says:

          DC, I totally agree with you.  I really miss Molly, and I really miss Ann Richards.  All of you Texans deserve to have these ladies standing up for you. 
          Liz, your wonderful friends are missed by many of us.

      • avatar Count Snarkula says:

        I can’t agree with much of what you say here Baby, except the part about the hateful American Family Association.  And can everyone please QUIT with the “Gay Governor” bit?  It is NOT true.  I know this.  Rick Perry is not Jim McGreavy.  He and Anita met in grade school, and anyone who has seem them together can see and feel the love and respect they show towards each other.  And that is all I have to say about Rick Perry.  Though would happily go on and on about the wonderful, generous Anita.

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          By hook or by crook Rick Perry has kept the books somewhat balanced in Texas unlike other states. And I must add that most of the “by hook or by crook” is on the part of the legislature. Not Rick Perry.  As for all the “wheeling and dealing” he’s no different from the Democrats who wanted to become governor. One of whom basically bankrupted Houston. The other one is in the book I will never write. When you get right down to it, well, it IS all about the money, honey. And how much you can make.  And all good things come to an end. And so some look to retirement. Ann Richards became a lobbyist. No doubt Molly Ivins urged her on with a “Why the hell not?”  Rick Perry most likely will become another Rush Limbaugh. Which pays much better than being president.

          Bottom line of this “presidential campaign” is his book has sold out and is into another printing.   Titled “Fed Up.” What he doesn’t realize, but will, is that a growing number of Americans are fed up with the people buying his book. 

          Interesting about the “happy marriage” and of course have to point out that looks can be deceiving. But in this case are not.  He probably should have sued over the rumors but then you get into the politically incorrect although he ended up in the politically incorrect anyway. Molly Ivins probably would have told him “Why the hell not?”  She was good with that. And should have stuck with it in 2006 and told everyone the same thing and told them to vote for Kinky Friedman.  It would have saved us all the considerable embarassment that is coming our way. It will be a very nasty campaign for the nomination. Texas may be financially viable but in terms of education and health care we leave much to be desired. And that will be something he will not be able to dismiss with a “Adios MoFo” with the national media.  Although no doubt at some point he will slip and that’s when the fun will begin and the national media will serve Roasted Rick to the nation.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            And honestly Anita has a side to her that is hidden well.  She has mastered the art of not slipping, however, so don’t expect much but the smiling and adoring wife…

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Maybe I spoke too soon. One of the Ron Paul supporters is running an ad in Austin’s “alternative newspaper” asking “Have you had sex with this man?” Should prove fun. Particularly if Anita Perry is asked to respond to the various bimbos who no doubt will respond to the ad…

          • avatar Count Snarkula says:

            Anita Perry is a lady.  She will not respond to anything that is said.  Never has, never will.  She is a woman who is confident in her marriage.  And while we are on the subject, as I know her, she HATES the spotlight.  The press always tries to get a photo of her looking sour or not smiling.  She is genuine, and I know what fake is.  Especially here in Texas.  Which, unlike Baby, is in the book I just MIGHT write one day.  The fact that he credits her with having the sway to whether or not he undertakes this campaign is exactly spot on.  She has signed on.  However reluctantly, because she loves and believes in her husband.  And the fact that he acknowledges and appreciates that makes him a very good husband.  Now for christsakes QUIT making me say nice things about Rick Perry.  ! ! !

          • avatar Count Snarkula says:

            Goddam Baby, I know you are a “born and will die a Republican” but let it go about Molly Ivins.  She is dead.  And died a horrible, protracted, hideous death from breast cancer.  Can you not just let it the F*** go and let the woman RIP?  I guess I expect more from you.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Oh, please. Molly Ivins would probably be having a little fun with herself at this point over it. And, well, why the hell not? 

          • avatar Count Snarkula says:

            Baby, it occurs to me that your reply was just as I expected.  And I think I might have been a little disappointed had it been anything else.  XOXO  The Count

    • avatar Paul Smith says:

      Mr. Perry may or may not be the savior. But neither is President Obama. I don’t blame congress and the teabaggers. He is Jimmy Carter with a prettier face. Even African American unemployment hovers at sixteen percent (nice loyalty Mr. President). There shall be more economic earthquakes ahead, and by November a lot more Obama backstabbers.

    • avatar Frau Quink says:

      Lila, Too bad you can’t hear me laugh out loud. I agree 100%.

  6. avatar pippin81 says:

    Tom Cruise as Reacher is just absolutely nuts.  I don’t care how good an actor he is.  He is NOT and never can be Reacher.  This is a great series of books, and Cruise as Reacher means I will never see them turned into movies.
    There are a lot of people who feel the same.  The backers of this movie should take note – this film will crash and burn with Cruise as Reacher.

    • avatar Deeliteful says:

      pippin:  I agree with you about Tom Cruise as Reacher. I seldom see movies that are based on books that I read because the ones I have seen greatly disappointed me. There are probably a few exceptions but I can’t think of them at the moment.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Deeliteful, I am a Tolkien fan and thought the most recent Lord of the Rings trilogy was spot-on.  Harry Potter also turned out just like what I imagined as I read the books.  I am also a Dune fan and that one was a little hit or miss, but overall very good. Sometimes they get it right…

  7. avatar Lila says:

    “… North Korea is chairing the Conference on Disarmament…. Iran is a member of the Commission on the Status of Women. That should answer their question.”
    On the face of it, it seems hypocritical, but there is actually good reason to allow governments to participate in the very fora addressing areas where they are flawed. 
    Precisely because they come under fire as hypocrites, offenders and laughingstocks in these areas, it instantly renews international attention on the issues, and increases the pressure on them to perform their duties to a high standard.  In any event, any damage they can do, even as Chair, is practically nil.  The Conference on Disarmament, for example, is a monthly rotating leadership position, hardly a platform from which to carry out any national agenda.
    Example:  another controversial appointment was Kazakhstan’s one-year chairmanship of the OSCE, and indeed, as Chair, they have taken heat for the OSCE’s handling of the crisis in Kyrgyzstan, as well as lingering human-rights issues of their own.  But their very effort to earn legitimate consideration for the post motivated them to clean up a lot of their own dirty laundry first.  They have come a long way since their Soviet days, and the Chairmanship of the OSCE was a very effective carrot in helping that along.

  8. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    And not that anyone cares what I think but this is the worst “new and improved” wowOwow ever – whyh not return to the original format? It worked. This and the others don’t.

    • avatar ann penn says:


    • avatar Lila says:

      Snooks, I agree, the original layout and features were just fine.  I also miss the ability to look back at other users’ past comments.  It was a treasure trove of all our conversations, which is what this site is supposed to be about.
      At least I am glad to have the editing buttons back – though the window text is once again tiny, something others will find bothersome.

    • avatar Count Snarkula says:

      Totally agree on this post Baby.  100% ! ! !

      • avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

        Absativily and Posalutely (spelled just like that) I agree !00% with Baby Snooks,, Ann, Lila and The Count!  The new set up is yuck and the window text seems even tinier!  Oh well, I’ll stick my two cents in.

    • avatar Deeliteful says:

      Please go back to the “old and approved” format.

  9. avatar Karin Dobson says:

    I am sooo disappointed in Lee Child for selling out.When I first discovered these books I was dubious about the iconic Jack Reacher but having read the series to date I have grown to love him.The physicality of the character is what sets him apart immediately and to have Tom Cruise who is barely 5’8 play him doesn’t make sense.Lee Child made Reacher 6’6 for a reason so it is hard to understand,it must have been a hell of a pay day.

  10. avatar Lila says:

    Karin and Pippin,  my uncle is a Jack Reacher fan but I have never read the novels; had to go look up the character in Wiki.  After seeing a bit of his background and physical traits, I agree with you – Tom Cruise isn’t the one to cast here.
    Maybe Jeff Chase; Dolph Lundgren?  Ralf Moeller – if he can suppress the German accent… many other choices…

  11. avatar Rho says:

    I agree, I don’t like this format.

  12. avatar Deeliteful says:

    Tom Clancy’s “Jack Ryan” has been played (successfully) by different actors, but at least those actors’ physical appearances were believable. Tom Cruise was not believable in “Interview with a Vampire” and we have not seen him in other vampire movies – wait – there were no more Ann Rice vampire movies, at least none I can remember. I doubt we’ll see the “Reacher” books made into a series of movies, but if that happens, let’s hope a different actor will portray Reacher.

  13. avatar mary burdt says:

    Please go back to the original format.  This one is impossible.  Why did you have to go and change something that was WORKING!!!

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Alright. I’m game. Why did they change it  Well, the phrase “idle hands and idle brains” comes to mind. As does “if it ain’t broken, why fix it?” 

  14. avatar ListeningLady says:

    It’s been a while since I have been on wowow. First off—the dinky type and format is a bit much on the eyes!!
    That being said, I felt compelled to comment on Rick Perry. I lived in Austin, TX for 12 years. Six of them during the Perry reign. I  can’t believe that he is now on the national stage running for President. I am definitely not a fan.  Rick Perry will say whatever it takes to get elected. He has presided over the decimation of the education system in Texas. Thousands of teachers will be laid off due to his policies (the the lege’s too) and this will be a loss of jobs and a major setback for education. Someone needs to ask him what happened with Sematech. a high tech research consortium leaving Texas for New York. All lot of his bragging of what is good in Texas had nothing to do with him. Rather it was his good fortune to be governor when the oil and gas industry was experiencing record profits. Also, with the addition of government jobs due to the military bases (Fort Hood for one) having added more jobs to support the war effort. Yes, these happened on his watch, but he did nothing to make those things happen.
    Whether he is more or less intelligent than W. is a parlor game. What is disconcerting is his flip attitude and embracing minority extremes who expose policies that would harm lots of Americans. I believe that as the campaign progresses his true colors will be more apparent. The voters will decide.
    I, too, miss our strong Texas women—Molly Ivins, Ann Richards, and Barbara Jordan. Now they were a trio to be proud of! What field day Molly and Ann would have with the Perry run. (I also miss Tim Russert…)
    My advice to anyone who is falling in love with Perry—due your research. The facts don’t lie. Yeah, he’s got great hair, a lot of bravado and energy. But we are in an ear o serious problems, and we need someone o substance to lead. Not another Texas blowhard!