There is a crash of ideologies between the country's two most self-regarding and fantasy-spinning power centers. The Bush crowd cringes away from gay cowboys spooning, gay authors flouncing, transgender babes exploring and George the Dashing Clooneying in movies about the glories of free speech and the dangers of oilmen influencing policy.
But as I looked around Vanity Fair's slinky Oscar party on Sunday night, it struck me that the bellicose Bushies do share a presentation aesthetic with Tinseltown's trompe l'oeil beauties: you see no furrowed brows, no regretful winces, no unflattering wrinkles, no admissions of imperfection, no qualms about puffing up what you really have, no visible signs of hard lessons learned, and no desire to confront reality in the mirror.
In Hollywood terms, we've reached an Indiana Jones crisis moment in our parlous protectorate. The cave is collapsing, the snakes are encroaching, the vehicles are exploding, the crushing ball is rolling down on us. The public has stopped buying the administration's sugary spin. The Washington Post reported yesterday that 80 percent of Americans - cutting across party lines - say sectarian violence makes civil war in Iraq likely. More than a third call it "very likely." Half also think the U.S. should begin withdrawing troops from Iraq, the poll found, and two-thirds say the president has no clear plan for Iraq.
The widespread resistance to the Dubai ports deal, even among newly fractious Republicans, indicates that Americans have lost faith in the president's competence - a faith shredded by the White House's obtuseness and lies on Katrina.
I love MoDo. The Vanity Fair post-Oscar party is the hottest A-list ticket in Tinsel Town, and she managed to brag a little on herself for getting to go to it, and weave the administration into the phoniness at the same time! Way to go, Red!