Geoffrey Dunn

Mitt Romney's Heartless Advice to a Woman Whose Pregnancy Might Have Killed Her

The summer of 1983 was blistering hot in New England. A record heat wave saw temperatures soar toward the 100-degree mark from June well into September. July had been the hottest month ever recorded at Boston's Logan Airport.

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A Personal Fog of War

For the past quarter century, Errol Morris has been one of America's most intriguing, innovative and, well, quite frankly, quirky documentary filmmakers. He is to nonfiction cinema what David Lynch is to fiction film and Diane Arbus is to documentary photography. With his offbeat character studies, unconventional camera angles and haunting musical scores by Philip Glass, Morris has forged one of the more unique and irreverent voices in American cinema, documentary or otherwise.

His collected oeuvre -- beginning with his iconoclastic look at pet cemeteries, "Gates of Heaven" (1978), to his spellbinding murder thriller, "The Thin Blue Line" (1988), and his unforgettable "Mr. Death" (1999), a chilling profile of a gas chamber engineer and Holocaust denier -- has forced Americans to plunge beneath the veneer of postmodern consumerism and confront their internal demons.

While 'The Thin Blue" Line directly resulted in the overturning of a first-degree murder conviction and, in and of itself, became a cultural cause célèbre, Morris' new film, "The Fog of War," takes the filmmaker into decidedly new and, what is for him, uncharted territory -- a subject as large as the history of human conflict in the 20th century and the life of one of the era's most controversial and reviled figures, Robert McNamara.

In his previous works, Morris had the luxury of introducing his audiences to stories and subjects mostly unknown to them, and as such, the films were marvelously revelatory and widely celebrated.

For those of us in our mid-40s and older, however, Robert McNamara needs no introduction. His image is indelibly etched in our collective consciousness.
As the secretary of defense under both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, McNamara was a larger-than-life figure, one of the so-called "best and the brightest" of the New Frontier. With his dark, slicked-back hair and wire-rim glasses, McNamara was one of the most recognizable figures on the nightly news for virtually all of the tumultuous '60s.

The antiwar movement in the United States, in which Morris says he participated as a student at the University of Wisconsin, thoroughly despised McNamara, his public arrogance and condescension, his seemingly emotional indifference to the horrors of Vietnam and the American assault he crafted and oversaw there. He was a numbers cruncher, an accountant with an army, dispassionate, interminably full of himself. Mac the Knife. Ice water seemed to run through his veins.

In his monumental history of the Vietnam War, The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam wrote of McNamara:

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