“Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre’s voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones.”
from “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, Plain Label Books, pp. 35-36.
Like Scrooge’s unwelcome visitor, it comes as no surprise that George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s chains are weighted with a 21st century version of old fashioned corporate greed, but they have added to Marley’s burden of “cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds and heavy purses wrought in steel.”
They also drag on the floor the shears that shredded our rights and our values, and their shoulders hunch from the weight of the coffins of the more than 6,000 American dead of September 11 and the Iraq War. Shattered lives dangle from the tattered cuffs of their muddy blue suits, which reek from the mildewed walls of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.
Like Scrooge, we sit incredulously in fear, pouring out our wit through pen and punditry to try to cope with the chill rattling through our collective bones. Were that we could dismiss it as “an undigested bit of beef.” But cuisine plays no cameo in America’s misfortune these last seven years. Fear is now an institution in our country. The scary status quo from semi-transparent politicians is a warning not to make our institutional fear Constitutional.
Like Bob Cratchit, the faithful buy their turkeys and hams and plea with us to reform our waggish ways. They hold up their children, their future, and ask us to embrace it. “God bless us, everyone.” It is important to them that we hold that ideal closely.
Last year’s election was our “Bah, Humbug” to the Bob Cratchits of this country, but after a year it seems that the halls of Congress are haunted by ghosts who take our representatives into a nightmare scenario, leaving them terrified of lying beneath the lonely headstone of un-Americanism or worse: un-electability.
It seems so unreal, this nightmare of congressional capitulation. Thank God, there’s still some sanity in Washington. You won’t see Russ Feingold or Dennis Kucinich running out into the snow Christmas morning looking to appease the fearful. If not for the few who act fearlessly to extinguish the flames of unreasonable paranoia, we would be the goose Scrooge brings to Christmas dinner.