It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Bush never precisely denied the charge, nor did he need to: "Obviously," he said, "if he's a convicted felon, his credibility's nothing." A discredited author amounted to a discredited story, and Hatfield's actual past trumped Bush's alleged past. St. Martin's Press, which published the book, withdrew its edition and destroyed all copies. Then a fly-by-night publisher named Soft Skull reprinted Fortunate Son, and Hatfield, who had refused to reveal the source of his information about the alleged cocaine arrest, now dropped a bombshell: His source, he said, was Karl Rove, Bush's closest political adviser.
All sensational stuff, very questionable, and there was even a "60 Minutes" segment on the would-be scandal, but Hatfield was a loose cannon and his personal life was coming apart at the seams. Eventually, he was found dead in a motel room after an overdose of prescription pills, in what appeared to be a genuine suicide. In a sense, his book was a service to the Bush campaign because the cocaine story and its author, generally seen to be discredited, drew attention away from the roughly simultaneous charges that the future commander in chief had been AWOL for a year from the Air National Guard.
"Horns and Halos," a documentary that resurrects this political footnote, begins with Hatfield and his book, but the attention keeps getting stolen by a mercurial eccentric named Sander Hicks, the owner, operator and sole employee of the Soft Skull Press. He works from his home, and his home is a tiny apartment in a New York apartment building where he is the janitor. Hicks is a splendid argument for diversity in media ownership, since with almost no capital, he was able to print and distribute the book.
The filmmakers, Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky, focus on Hicks' passion for the book, which easily outstrips Hatfield's. "Not a day goes by that I don't regret writing this book," Hatfield says at one point, and there are signs toward the end that, despite his joy over the birth of a baby daughter, he is coming unhinged.