“There is no aphrodisiac like madness, but it wears off quickly.”
-Kevin Baker, from his novel, Dreamland (HarperCollins, 1999)
In the din of madness, the seething intensity of rancorous anger, the light of American glory dims yellow like a string of bare bulbs outside a red, white and blue striped circus tent. The barker calls one and all to behold the acts, the jugglers and the clowns, the unicyclists and lion tamers, as they make us jeer and cheer, laugh and cry, and sit transfixed in the dark bleachers, while the government show unfolds before us…
Ladies and gentleman of America, welcome to the big dome circus! Tonight, and for the foreseeable future, you will be witnesses and unwilling participants in the Greatest Sham on Earth! Pay attention to the center ring in the Capitol Rotunda, and what you will see is guaranteed to flabbergast and disgust you. It could come form the left, or from the right, from the asses riding elephants backward around the arena, or from the clowns piling out of the Giant Dollar Bill’s shorts or the snake-piss swallowers who poop piles of hard, gold currency.
The conclusion is unavoidable, the process “inevitable,” the principles non-negotiable. Nothing is on the table and everything is on the table AT THE SAME TIME! It’s amazing!
Watch, as Lonesome John, the sad clown from Ohio, whimpers as he shuffles to his two-step process. Watch, as Maudlin Mitch punts our credit rating down the field, without ever managing to score a touchdown. You’ll cheer as Barack the Great balances on the highwire, in a way that both frightens and entertains.
You’ll see the leaders of our story dance ineffectually around the clock to the cha-ching, cha-ching of the carnival calliope, disappearing for a time, then reappearing when you most expect it, Coburn, then Cantor, then Boehner, all in a do-si-do. The players may switch roles – willing negotiators become corporate tools, unsympathetic oligarchs become sympathetic fools – but the drama remains the same.
Watch compromise appear briefly, and then disappear, before your very eyes! Watch, as the clothes disappear off your back with your bargaining rights, your paychecks disappearing into thin air like flash paper! The hand may be quicker than the eye, but it’s slower than the mind, and you’ll watch with numbing glee as the shaft comes toward you and makes you bend over, grab your ankles and take it, willingly.
It’s the Greatest Snow Job on Earth, and you are a captive audience. The mad voter, in their drunken rage, paid for your ticket in 2010, and you’ve no choice but to sit and watch, and occasionally bury your face in your hands in futile despair.
Still, the curtain must close on this cacophony eventually, and you get to exit the tent and enter the polling place, as the circus is dismantled behind you in November, 2012.
I’m up on the tightrope…