My momma was a real Adlai Stevenson girl. A true-blue liberal with a good head on her shoulders and who read the papers every day. So to honor her birth of me this month, I’ve decided to give myself a small, sparkling political rant!
Now, I may think it sparkles, but you — if you’re on the other team, saying “yay” for whom I loudly say “boo” — you may not think it’s so sparkly. It may annoy you like a piece of grit in your eye. But it’s my birthday, so I’ll make you cry if I want to.
After all, I’ve been doing a lot of political weeping lately.
Which is odd because court jesters are supposed to make you laugh, aren’t they?
The problem we have is that our latest buffoon — our Barnum du jour — is a court jester who wishes to be king, and that puts everything in an entire other light. But let’s stay on the Barnum thing for a minute.
P.T. Barnum, the extraordinary showman, theatrical and circus producer, champion of Tom Thumb, his faux wife, Thumbelina, and other fascinating oddities, was oft-quoted because he had a curiously attractive way of putting down his own avid audiences with pithy quotes such as (the commonly attributed) “There’s a sucker born every minute” (who did they think he was referring to anyway?), “Every crowd has a silver lining” (let’s not forget greed as an eternal motivator), and my favorite, “Nobody has ever lost a dollar by underestimating the American public.”
Does this bring to mind anyone you’ve been hearing from lately, shooting people in the middle of Fifth Avenue, notwithstanding? (He Who Shall Not Be Named did say that if he did that, people would still vote for him, remember?). With his fake hair, his fake tan, his fake heart, and his false sense of self-importance (commonly known as narcissism), are we not now engaged daily with a Barnum all our own? A circus barker for our age? A dyed in the sharkskin hustler walking down Park Avenue? Have we not all become part of his great “unwashed,” salivating and enthralled entourage? Has not enough been written about him already?
Well, it is my birthday month, and we still do live in a free country where a birthday girl can express herself … at least for now.
But let me add this to that. Because I have spent my New York years — nearly half a century of them — engaged in show business, seeking the applause and laughter of people who would pay good money to see me perform, I feel complicit in this latest dismaying political plot, and here’s why.
What we’re experiencing in our election cycle this time around is not true politics, and it’s certainly not statesmanship — no. What we have here is plain old, undisguised show biz, all shiny and not all that new. Pure entertainment industry hoo-hah! A strong example of “let’s make it glittery (look at how unhumanly gold his hair keeps getting as the days go by, like cheap jewelry), let’s make it loud (has there even been a more vulgar public speaker, with a megaphone for a mouth?) and the let’s-not-really-answer-the-question-but-barrel-over-everyone-else orator? Now that was one heck of a sentence I just wrote, but let’s face it, this guy is one heck of a cartoon, and certainly not all that grammatically correct either.
O.K., so you get the point, I don’t like this particular candidate. And though I have never been very politically minded, I truly resent how show business has hijacked our democratic process. And how, like Barnum’s audiences, not only is a sucker being born every minute, but lots of suckers are being persuaded that this guy has something to contribute to the betterment of our lives. I fear a growing nation of such suckers. And can’t you hear Barnum laughing from the grave?
So do you want to give me a birthday present?
I love roses and Suzie Cakes for sure — their confetti cake is a favorite, just so you know. But if romance and sugar are not your style, do me this one: Don’t vote, don’t even clap, for you-know–who. Ever.
And remember, we do have our good sense to count on, if we just remember what a genuine president once said: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
Thank you Mr. Lincoln. May we all wake up soon — all of us people.