David Brooks is back from vacation and ready to cogitate for your delectation.
The Coen Brothers made a movie "The Man Who Wasn't There":
I haven't seen the movie but that trailer begins with a close-up of barbering and a voice-over naming various hairstyles, ending with "the executive contour" (at 0:13). That brought back a dream I had last night. I was advising Donald Trump to restyle his hair. It shouldn't come forward over his face. I saw him with the new hairstyle. It was — it seems now — The Executive Contour.
But "The Man Who Wasn't There" is more familiar as an old poem, "Antigonish" (from 1899 by William Hughes Mearns):
Yesterday, upon the stair,That poem was cited by Justice David Souter in the Supreme Court case about voter I.D. laws:
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd go away...
When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn't see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don't you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door...
Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away...
The State responds to the want of evidence [of the kind of fraud that the law would remedy] with the assertion that in-person voter impersonation fraud is hard to detect. But this is like saying the “man who wasn’t there” is hard to spot....The Man Who Wasn't There should not be confused with The Man Who Never Was, an invented persona assigned to a real human corpse and used to trick the Nazis in WWII — otherwise known as Operation Mincement:
To reinforce the impression of Martin being a real person, Montagu and Cholmondeley provided collaborative details to be carried on his person – known in espionage circles as wallet or pocket litter. This included a photograph from an invented fiancée named Pam; the image was of an MI5 clerk, Jean Leslie. Two love letters from Pam were included in the pocket litter, as was a receipt for a diamond engagement ring costing £53, 10s 6d from a Bond Street jewellery shop. Additional personal correspondence was included, consisting of a letter from fictitious Martin's father – described by Macintyre as "pompous and pedantic as only an Edwardian father could be" – which included a note from the family solicitor, and a message from Lloyds Bank, demanding payment of an overdraft of £79 19s 2d.Here's the delightful "Pam":