I have to tread a rather fine line here.
On one hand, the story here is Jon Voight.
On the other hand, Jon Voight isn't the story at all. The story instead is a Republican party so bereft of coherent champions and so sleazy to the core that they would exploit a sad old man in his dotage for a scrap of publicity, however useless.
In Los Angeles, celebrity sightings are a dime a dozen, and despite what you see in the supermarket rags, celebrities are mostly left alone. That's as it should be.
I'm probably even more desensitized than the average Angeleno, by virtue of having worked in the entertainment industry in a prior life. Sometimes, though, even I find myself star struck.
Jon Voight was once a great actor. If you have not seen Coming Home or Deliverance or Midnight Cowboy, your understanding and appreciation of American cinema is incomplete, and that is thanks in no small part to Voight's talent. One day a few years ago I was shopping for groceries, and I saw him.
He was having an argument with an array of fresh vegetables.
That's not a laugh line. I'm serious. He was standing in front of a bunch of bell peppers and celery, and he was arguing with them.
A few years later, it happened again, in the exact same supermarket. Only this time, Jon Voight was wandering down the frozen food aisle, mumbling angrily to himself.
Two or three months ago, I had my third Jon Voight sighting, at a deli in Beverly Glen, with my 7-year old daughter in tow. He was waiting for a table as we were exiting, and as we passed, he growled at my daughter, and then passed me a squint of sheer disgust, as if he had read my filthy liberal mind and found its contents scandalous.
: I am not a psychologist. I do not pretend to know what has afflicted this once great man, but I do know this: he is not of sound mind. And whatever Republican operative made the decision to thrust him into the spotlight as a mouthpiece for the radical right, to wind him up and let him spew stuff like this...
He thinks he's going to conquer the world with his soft-spoken sweet talk. And really thinks he’s going to bring all the enemies of the world into a little playground where they’ll swing each other back and forth...
And let's give thanks to all the great people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, William Bennett, Glenn Beck, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Dennis Miller, Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, John Kasich, Michael Steele, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Thomas Sowell, Victor Davis Hanson, Shelby Steele, Charles Krauthammer, Michelle Malkin, Fred Barnes and so many others.
...must know as well.
To be perfectly fair, nobody forced Voight to plug himself into the Fox News Matrix and pickle his brain. He did that to himself. Perhaps altercations with produce is what results from that kind of exposure. But I can hardly imagine the desperation and cynicism it'd take for Republicans to recruit a man so plainly unwell, and a man so crippled with anger, as a celebrity propagandist.
Sadly, it comports with the pattern of the new GOP, who somehow managed to interpret the ascendancy of Barack Obama as proof that what America really wants is mascots. Joe The Plumber. Miss California. Michael "Off The Hizzay" Steele.
And now poor, confused Jon Voight, up there in the spotlight, performing his swan song. A great actor, reading lines from the most pedestrian of scripts.