I think I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s a little film called Mystery Men (1999; see trailer), a mostly fluffy comedy that got a thumb’s down from Roger Ebert, although I liked it. It has just enough subtle satire to give a little edge to the fluff.
The main characters are a group of ordinary men (and one woman, The Bowler, played by Janeane Garofalo) who desperately want to be superheroes, but they have no superpowers. So they wear costumes and sort of fake having superpowers. Other cast members include William Macy (The Shoveler) and Paul Reubens (as, I think, The Spleen).
The main character, played by Ben Stiller, is Mr. Furious. Mr. Furious gets really, really angry. However, his anger has no productive use. He doesn’t turn into The Hulk; he’s just angry. He believes that his anger gives him power, but by the end of the film he has learned the lesson that he’s more powerful, in a way, without it.
So yesterday a whackjob named Carl Paladino beat the always hapless Rick Lazio for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in New York. The Democratic nominee, Andrew Cuomo, is not seriously threatened. But Paladino reminds me of Mr. Furious.
â€œWe are mad as hell,â€ Mr. Paladino said in a halting but exuberant victory speech in Buffalo shortly after 11 p.m. â€œNew Yorkers are fed up. Tonight the ruling class knows. They have seen it now. There is a peopleâ€™s revolution. The people have had enough.â€
Referring to criticism from what he said were liberal elites, he added: â€œThey say I am too blunt. Well, I am, and I donâ€™t apologize for it. They say I am an angry man, and thatâ€™s true. We are all angry.â€ …
…In Orchard Park, a Buffalo suburb, Darryl Radt, who described himself as a regular primary voter, said he had come to the American Legion post to vote for Mr. Paladino â€œbecause heâ€™s mad as hell and so am I.â€
And this anger will be useful, how, exactly?
Maryland Delaware, we have tea party darling and Mystery Woman Christine Oâ€™Donnell coming out of nowhere to upset the establishment Republican Mike Castle. The GOP establishment is furious, because they believed Castle to be well positioned to take Joe Biden’s former seat.
E.J. Dionne quotes Delaware Republican Party chairman Tom Ross, who complains that Castle had the endorsement of the state’s grass roots Republicans, while O’Donnell was bankrolled and supported by the Tea Party Express, which is headquartered in California.
Ross notes that the state Republican convention endorsed Castle. These are not some shadowy party bosses, but, as he put it, â€œthe grass-roots delegates who knock on the doors and pass out the literature and pound the pavements.â€
Ross says he thinks itâ€™s pretty nervy for â€œsome group in Sacramento that doesnâ€™t know our state to come here, destroy our civility, and tell the people of Delaware they know more about our state than we know.â€
Whatâ€™s interesting here is the notion that for all its grass-rootsy talk, the Tea Party is a nationally led and nationally directed movement that is willing to run roughshod over local Republican parties if it finds them to be less than ideologically pure.
What helped O’Donnell is that Delaware has a closed primary, so that independents and conservative Democrats who would have likely voted for Castle in November couldn’t vote for him in the primary.
Anyway, the rightie bloggers see O’Donnell as the grassroots candidate sending a message to the Beltway elite, not noticing that O’Donnell’s “grassroots” backing was from a national organization led by long-time political pros.
Recommended Read: “The Paranoid Style in American Punditry.”