Like John Kerry with his campaign, we, the Charlottes of InkWell, have been suspending just about everything while we mourn the passing of Ronald Reagan. One thing we’ve let lapse is the Mailbag. But we can’t ignore this erudite annotation from reader R.C. on our June MoDo Watch, in which our own Cathy Seipp took on, as she does every month, the New York Times’s irrepressible redhead/airhead Maureen Dowd:

Maureen’s been picking on Dick Cheney lately, so here’s what Cathy wrote:

“In her May 9 column, for instance, she [Dowd, of course] scolded the vice president for ‘being more Jack Palance than Shane’ (whatever that means)….”

I don’t know what that means, either–but R.C. does. He writes:

“[A] brief film studies lesson: When Dowd said Cheney was ‘more Jack Palance than Shane.’ she was referring to archetypal western film, Shane (1953). In it, Shane (Alan Ladd) is an ex-gunfighter trying to escape his violence-filled past and start a new life, whereas the character played by Jack Palance is still a gun-for-hire character, working for the evil cattle baron who is trying to run the community Shane has befriended off of their land.

“At the end, of course, Shane puts his violence skills to use for the little guy and has a showdown with Jack Palance. Here, I would imagine. Dowd is calling Cheney a mercenary, putting his gun (the U.S. military) to use against the meek and honest folk (of Iraq? the U.S.? Canada?)….Or she’s following Shane’s example, who called Palance’s character in the film a ‘low-down Yankee liar’ and calling Cheney a low-down Yankee liar, although since he is from Nebraska…, I guess that doesn’t really stick.”

Don’t worry, R.C.–I got lost way back at the cattle baron.