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The Difference Between Bogart's Smart and Sinatra's Cool



(p. A11) Everyone loved Old Blue Eyes and mourned him when he died in 1998. Everyone except Michael Kelly.

Kelly hated Frank because Frank had invented Cool, and Cool had replaced Smart. What was Smart? It was Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca: "He possesses an outward cynicism, but at his core he is a square. . . . He is willing to die for his beliefs, and his beliefs are, although he takes pains to hide it, old-fashioned. He believes in truth, justice, the American way, and love. . . . When there is a war, he goes to it. . . . He may be world weary, but he is not ironic."

Cool was something else. "Cool said the old values were for suckers. . . . Cool didn't go to war; Saps went to war, and anyway, cool had no beliefs he was willing to die for. Cool never, ever, got in a fight it might lose; cool had friends who could take care of that sort of thing."

It never, ever would have occurred to me to make the distinction until I read Kelly's column. And then I understood Sinatra. And then I understood Kelly, too.



For the full commentary, see:

BRET STEPHENS. "GLOBAL VIEW; Remembering Michael Kelly; A columnist who hated phonies, stood for truth, and died for his beliefs." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., April 2, 2013): A11.

(Note: ellipses in original.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date April 1, 2013.)






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