Daniel Craig As Evolving, New Age James Bond “Everyman”: Hey, It Works For Me

I went to see Quantum of Solace because I liked Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale, and because I always take my husband to opening weekends of all good new action movies. I’d already heard reviewers complain that this new Craig/Bond was insufficiently Bondish—i.e., not enough jokes, too much heavy emotion, too many similarities to other, un-Bond-like traditionally-vengeful action heroes, not enough Bond-techy gimmicks and vehicles, too few glam locales. And what to make of the movie’s weird politics? And of Bond’s lack-of-sex with his sexy new love interest? I went to see for myself.


I liked the movie very well. I thought it was very effective, violent, destructive, action entertainment, for those who enjoy this genre. I thought it was definitely worth the price of admission. Even if it was only part of a to-be-continued movie, it was a very complete and satisfying part, setting up well the Craig/Kurylenko movie(s) to follow, which will tantalizingly develop Bond’s budding romance with this particularly ravishing new heroine.


I thought Olga Kurylenko was great. She reminded me of what I love about Catherine Zeta-Jones. I hope she will endure as an unkicked-aside Bond sidekick for many films to come. How much more can Bond evolve, than to stick with one woman?


I liked this movie’s (admittedly undeveloped) politics. I was glad the writers went to the trouble to imply that good and bad actors can be found in every nation and every endeavor, and that all of us will have ample opportunities to participate–or not–in increasingly rampant opportunities for corruption, greed, crime, terrorism, hypocrisy, war, cruelty, espionage, exploitation, backstabbing and wanton violence, especially as enhanced by the global contest for dwindling resources—oil, water, money, what have you….


I also enjoyed the side-talk references affirming vengeance as both a very powerful and tempting human motivation and an unsatisfying one, and forgiveness—of oneself and others—as essential to sanity and peace. Very un-traditional un-Bondian stuff. Very New Age perspectives. And also very true.


This Bond movie didn't disapoint my expectation for novelty, either. I don't think I'm alone in my curiosity about life in desperately poor third world locales like Port au Prince, Haiti, or about glamourous off-the-beaten-track cultural events like traditional bareback horse racing in the public square, and exotically-staged modern operas.


I also loved the new holiday Coca-Cola commercial which preceded the movie. Taken together, the new commercial with the new Bond movie, I got a heady whiff of what our millennial creatives are all about and up to these days: philosophical acceptance of an imperfect “what is,” along with real commitment to making “what is” better, through positive, ideologically indifferent, large and small, person-to-person, moment-to-moment, choice-by-choice contributions in gray areas and complex moral situations, in whatever way they can.


Thus, I saw variously flawed and well-intentioned players in the movie and the commercial persist in acquiring the necessary wisdom and clout to act well their parts and support one another when and where it mattered most—that is, when push came to shove. These creatives and the crowds they are playing to believe in the power of acceptance, forgiveness, inclusion, diversity, and best of all, in one person’s ability to make a difference and find a quantum of solace within such caring moments.


I liked watching Daniel Craig’s Bond try to do his best with his very limited but amazing personal resources. I enjoyed watching him courageously try to make some sense of a morally chaotic world, and seek meaningful ways to contribute and endure. Craig’s Bond is a unique and powerful Everyman perfectly suited to today’s audiences.


I don’t miss the grand old Bond clichés. That was then. This is now. Welcome back, Mr. Bond.



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Lincoln Gathered INTELLECTUAL Rivals in his Cabinet: Can Hillary Match Up for Obama?

Not that Hillary Rodham Clinton isn’t smart as a whip. Indeed, she emerged from college a cultural visionary. But is she, right now, really one of our country’s great intellectual visionaries, who can offer sound prescriptions for America’s future within a fast-changing world? Is she today one of our great leading political and social global thinkers?


Or is Clinton more a powerful partisan wonk, a good DO-er (and do-gooder) on behalf of her constituents, as well as her own political ambitions and legacy ? Because, if she is 'merely' a powerful, well-connected political operative, then an Obama decision to bring her into his cabinet at Secretary of State will be greatly at odds with, and indeed, will work against accomplishing what Doris Kearns Goodwin, in Team of Rivals, said that Lincoln himself achieved by gathering his own “team of rivals”–help in thinking through, in advance, the implications of his weightiest decisions.


During those pre-Civil War days, politicians gained national political stature through public speaking—that is: by composing speeches and then publishing them in the nation’s newspapers. These thoughtfully-wrought, persuasive intellectual arguments concerning the issues of the day included valuable original personal perspectives and prescriptions for appropriate responses to breaking conflicts and topics. Barack Obama himself has certainly fulfilled all such requirement for visionary intellectual leadership, having personally written two best-selling books during his relative youth, and having personally planned and executed an unparalleled national campaign that bent and shaped the ideas of the world through the sheer force of his intellect.


Unfortunately, Clinton’s previous particular strengths have not been in this department—with the exception of her global work for women and children.


Clinton has proved herself a very successful, bright, capable political fighter. Her greatest abilities have been in adversarial relations and political in-fighting. With Hillary as political strategist-in-chief, Bill could always outmaneuver his opponents. She has also done interesting work on her own political behalf, as well.


Admittedly, Clinton has evolved to becoming a global fighter for women and children on the world stage. Certainly she has met with many foreign leaders. But her global background and perspectives, and frankly, her previous interests in foreign relations have mostly been limited to improving life for her favorite two-thirds of the world’s population—women and children—along, of course, with their husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, grandfathers and male friends.


Hmmmm. Come to think of it, if Clinton will serve Obama wholeheartedly and loyally from this pro-family global perspective—and that’s a big if—maybe she’ll turn out to be a good choice for State after all, past ghostwriters be damned.


Clinton’s very loving heart could be wonderfully put to use in the very important role of new Senate Lion during the Obama era. Congress needs her many talents to negotiate the details and fight for passage of the coming torrent of new legislation so necessary to bring real change to America.


But Secretary of State? We definitely do not need a parochial street fighter in that role. What we need is a global visionary who will approach the world non-adversarially—not as a defensive women up against a world of men, not as an advocate of the interests of the United States 'against' the interests of 'the rest,' but as one with all others.


If Clinton has indeed evolved enough to work patiently with (and not against) all comers; if she can bring the world together to cooperatively solve our many common global problems; if she is ready to make the necessary evolutionary jump away from adversarial relationships toward cooperative ones; if she can come from her caring rather than her fears; then she could indeed be the right kind of rival for Obama’s cabinet team, and the right kind of U.S. Secretary of State to the world.


Actually, I had Al Gore in mind for Obama's Secretary of State, because of his green, global, cooperative vision and personality, and his demonstrated intellectual leadership through speaking, writing, and other political venues. But if Obama does offer State to Clinton, then I hope she will consider his offer with real humility concerning her motives and abilities perhaps gained from her recent hubris. And if she accepts, I hope she now comes from that so-necessary intellectual bandwidth which alone will determine whether both their decisions will look good to posterity.

Covering Obama: A Cautionary Note to Journalists and Historians

Journalists who recently told the election tale in terms of a superior candidate emerging victorious over an inferior one risked a barrage of criticism from rightist pundits. And indeed, the salutations of the world’s moral and political leaders, and the tears of admirers everywhere, have crowned Barack Obama a peerless light-bearer, while John McCain, partly for the sake of a contrasting story line, has been cast in the evil emperor role.


Truly, it would be as misguided for liberal-leaning journalists to indelibly identify Obama as a permanent force for good, as for right-leaning journalists to gnash their teeth to nubs over their White Knight’s defeat by the evil Antichrist, because what keeps journalists working is their sure-handed avoidance of any final pronouncements on the rapidly-changing nature of the people and human institutions in the scene before them, in favor of reporting in medias res exactly what just happened.


In this particular case, what just happened was that a famously-esteemed public servant, John McCain, too often gave in to cynicism; attacked his until-recently unknown opponent; promoted fear; and acted the part of convenient tool of greedy and foolish party opportunists narrowly serving the interests of America’s wealthiest citizens.


What just happened was that voters rightly associated John McCain’s candidacy with the failed policies of today’s Republican Party, the party of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington, Rove, and Hadley, who, together with Hannity, Limbaugh and their ilk, duped two highly-electable, ideologically “authentic” rock stars, Bush II and McCain, into fatuously selling, with fatal consequences to large swaths of Americans and Iraqis, a vacuous, greed-based ideology.


What just happened was that a Republican presidential campaign aligned itself with policies promoting U.S. hegemony; a dominion of haves over have-nots; a belief in the inevitability of a divided world; militarized solutions to political conflicts; and a continuation of institutionalized bigotry, hatred, ignorance and poverty as the optimal path to safety and prosperity.


Journalists legitimately pointed out that there were clear differences between the two candidates and their campaigns—two very different approaches to governing, two distinct philosophies, two methodologies, two visions.


Journalists rightly explained how and why most world citizens came together to embrace and applaud the more hopeful candidate and reject the more cynical one.


To be sure, John McCain is neither the devil nor the evil emperor. He is, however, a believer in the aggressive, violent, chauvinistic ideology of the Bush regime which preceded him. George W. Bush isn’t the devil either, but he did quite naively become falsely persuaded that his only choice was to unleash hell in the Middle East, thereby adding greatly to the sum of human suffering and injustices in the false hope of thus preventing some.


Many high-minded journalists very professionally told a story of how, in this one glorious instance, Americans courageously elected a man advocating diplomacy, global problem-solving, an end to class warfare, relief for the planet, a search for common interests and solutions, the education of all children everywhere in the necessary skills, ideals and values of citizenship and productivity, and a belief in working together to lift mankind up instead of tearing it down.


Barack’s victory was a victory of hope, love, and faith over cynicism, despair, and vengeance. Journalists telling his election story just exactly as it unfolded were right to tell the truth that for a brief shining moment, America once again welcomed the possibility of a promising new king ready and eager to reign wisely and well from a diverse, compassionate and representative roundtable.


At the risk of grievously mixing regal metaphors:  Make it so.




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