What would some of us be without politics? Take American politics and there is one star turn after another replete with hijinks, lowlifes, sideshows, and an underground steam bath to boot. I love it for the highbrow pretensions and the low comedy that are so much a part of what I conclude is not less than a full-throated vaudeville, without an off-season.
There was Richard Nixon, who once famously snarled that he was getting his hat and called for his coat, since he was leaving: nobody would have him to kick around anymore.
But like General Douglas MacArthur he did return to the scene of his ignominious withdrawal, and also like that American Caesar serving in the Philippines (then Korea), he went down in flames before long.
In the case of President Nixon, he did what none other succeeded in doing: he threw his Republican party, and all of America under the express bus. That took some doing, and his Waterloo was a place named Watergate.
Next, came the peanut farmer from Georgia, who saw himself as the second coming of Jesus, only to be nailed to the cross by some fundamentalists in Teheran and their American brethren along the Washington Beltway. It made for good ole fashioned American holy rolling. Unfortunately, it was Mr. Carter’s head that was rolling downhill – when he should have been of the hair-raising brimstone of T.D. Jakes, he settled for the tranquilizing piousness of Joel Osteen. As religious fare, the American people wanted Samson and Delilah, and good ole boy Jimmy decided upon the Ten Commandments. Scorned in ecclesiastical circles, he had no chance in political ones.
Then, along came Hollywood.
It was 20th Century Fox and foxy Ronnie Reagan, and from which Bollywood fantasies are made. When the low-grade cowboy rode down Pennsylvania Avenue, he brought the American sunset with him; as far as the poor residents were concerned, it was Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, with Sergeant Bilko in the white hat.
This is the American dream in action, and the dawn of a new morn in the White House. For me, there was too much Miami Vice and Tequila Sunrise. The blarney took over, and substance went out the window taking it with it truth and memory. I submit Iran-Contra as Exhibit I; it is several thousands of pages worth of fascinating pulp reading. Either the man or his people were first rate falsifiers; or they did suffer from genuine memory loss. By repeatedly taking the Fifth, they showed that they are true defenders of the faith. Don’t ask me which one, as I am sure all religious houses would distance from ownership. Just like the man with the photographic memory, Admiral John Poindexter, who couldn’t recall one damn thing. I think he smoked too much and blew too much of it into his own eyes. But what is America, if not a land of unlimited and unimaginable, ingenuity?
Into this political circus, from all the way down south, careened one William Jefferson Clinton, alias Slick Willie.
American politics was never going to be the same again. Mr. Smith goes to Washington, it wasn’t; more like Soul Train loaded with soul food and serenades to match. Just ask Monica. It was American Gigolo on an Orient Express to the Love Boat. Talk about a daytime soap opera in primetime, with all the airing of dirty laundry before a titillated public. Richard Pryor could not have done better; Elizabeth Taylor neither. Whoever said that American politics and the American presidency were boring did not know what they were talking about; completely clueless.
Last, came the man from the splendor in the grass neighborhood of Jamaica Estates, New York. Yours truly had to be content with the other side of the tracks on Highland Avenue, in just plain old Jamaica Hills. The problem was that in both places, there were no Jamaicans, who had all taken flight because of the deteriorating neighborhoods. I can only speculate as to what the people in the District of Columbia are saying. There goes the neighbourhood, which is how crude and rude New Yorkers are anywhere they go. They are not afraid of high elevations, including office. Political leadership is like a miniskirt trying to pass as a tuxedo.
What I am petrified about at this turn in American politics, is how paranoia and megalomania trump all else. Like they say, it’s a free country and what would it be without the political entertainment. Before I get too carried away myself, it is time to call the men in white coats -those whose primary tools are straightjackets. It is fitting. Don’t look at me, I am not the president. Look he is over there: the one talking to himself and speaking in tongues. For the last time, what is there not to love about American politics and the ringmasters in the White House? It went from squabbling (Lewinsky) to squalor (Giuliani). Guyana didn’t lose out in the tawdry lingerie department, as we had Brutus and Cassius in the electoral gymnastics of one Keith Lowenfield.