Brigadier:: Did you believe them?
4th Doctor: No, of course not, and they know I didn’t. And I know that they know that I didn’t, and they know that I know that…
Doctor Who Robot 1974
Worf: We will wait until he feels the grasp of his enemies around his throat
Star Trek TNG Redemption 1991
Mrs. Lovet: Don’t you know, silly man
Half the fun is to plan the plan
All good things come to those who can
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 2007
Last week I suggested to the GOP that we should answer the Nuclear option with the Sicilian option. I think it’s necessary to be more specific.
There are several Italian stereotypes out there, but for Sicilians the stereotype that is most pronounced is that of the Gangster and nothing has crystallized that image in the minds of people like the first two Godfather Movies, the greatest Movie-Sequel pair ever made.
Even within the stereotype you have two variations that are represented by Sonny Corleone and his brother Michael.
Sonny Corleone is a fighter and a man of strong passions. He wears his opinions on his sleeve. When his father is hit, he comes back strong. When Tom Hagen advices him what it is costing the family financially he doesn’t care, and when Carlo either yells at his sister or hits her he springs to action.
Everyone body knows he is coming, there is no subtilty to him and that becomes his undoing as he is ambushed and slaughtered in a trap baited by his passions.
But the single most telling moment for Sonny isn’t the beating, shooting or even the war, the telling moment comes when Sollozzo makes his pitch to the Corleone family.
When Don Vito turns him down Sollozzo offers to guarantee his investment and when he does Sonny jumps in to question this until the Don raises a hand and turns to look at his now humbled son. The shot shifts to Clemenza, then to Tom Hagen then to Sollozzo who immediately notes Sonny’s interest in contrast to his father, who is forced to stress that his “No” is final and scolds him:
What’s the matter with you. I think your brain is going soft from all that comma you’re playing with that young girl. Never tell anybody outside the family what you’re thinking again.
It’s is Sollozzo’s perception that “Sonny was hot for my idea” that leads to the war, the shooting of the Don, the corruption of Michael and his own murder.
Why, because everyone sees him coming and knows how to counter him.
Contrast that with his father and his brother Michael. Every single time he or his father acts they acts at a moment when nobody sees him coming. The Sollozzo & McCulskey do not see him coming any more than the five families, Tessio or Hyman Roth do. This mirrors his father who is able to kill not only kill Don Fanucci and Don Ciccio but to do so on their own ground.
They are able to do this because rather than rush for revenge as both Paulo (Vito’s brother) and Sonny does they slowly sits back and waits not striking until his targets are relaxed and the moment presents itself.
The best illustration of this method ironically comes not in any of the murder scenes but in the Scene with Senator Geary in Nevada at the start of Godfather 2
Note the response by Michael when Senator Geary tries to “squeeze” him and insults his family for good measure. He doesn’t get angry, he doesn’t threaten him he makes his “offer” and ignores Geary’s bemused reaction and waits…
…until Senator Geary finds himself betrayed by his own appetites (with some help from Corleone Lt Al Neri) put him in a compromising position where Tom Hagen “friendship” is the only hope to extract himself from a danger to life and career.
In each case Michael waits, lets his foes relax until every piece is on the board where he wants it, and then he strikes.
Bottom line Michael & Vito got the results they desired, Sonny did not.
There is a lesson here, for all those angry about the new Filibuster rules in the Senate and a lot of other things.
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