The Circus was not a Circus

A political junkie friend of mine urged me to watch “The Circus”, a rehash of the 2016 political campaign.  “Wha?” I asked, “They got someone to play Clinton and someone to play Trump?  Not interested.”  She assured me that it was no actors, just three “behind the scenes” guys (two journalists and one seasoned campaign manager) and the real characters in this battle.  I had watched the “real” campaign closely, so why would I want to watch it again?  But I was “out” of tv series on which to binge, still on vacation, and nursing a clinging cold, so I tried episode 1, then 2, then eager for 3, then hooked–the typical binge, hook, ‘n cling.

I got through all 23 thirty-minute episodes in a few days, and I can tell you it was NOT a circus.  Well, ok, the campaign was, but this presentation of it was anything but circus-like.  Two dullards presented inane commentary on the proceedings and, in the process, exposed their complete boringness and total bias.   These two were less interesting to me than any neighbor on my street.  A journalist is one who exposes events with acuity and insight, right?  In their case, they and their smug self-importance were what was going on.   We were (I think) supposed to be impressed because they were insiders and had seen it all.   Their boredom was supposed to interest me.  After all, someone pays celebrity insiders so much because they have insight, right? The third guy didn’t say much beyond a few words to show that he’d been “around” and “important” for several decades, slinging platitudes.  A platitude slinger.  Oh, and he wore a hat and he changed it once during the 16 months, so that was supposed to be titillating.   After a few months (or episodes) a cute woman insider-commentator joined them to buoy up their flaccid analysis–but maybe I am not supposed to call her cute because then you could call me sexist, right?  It is interesting, however, that cuteness seems to “count” for women commentators but not so much for men commentators.  Even not-so-cute women commentators get cuter and cuter as the make-up artists for “the news” get more and more “into” them as their salaries rise.

If Hillary had any plans or proposals, they were not revealed over the course of this “analysis” but the 3 journalists (the two not-cute men and the cute woman) were clearly “for” Hillary, together.  The hat guy just smiled a lot.  He had in the past worked for both D and R candidates, so you couldn’t tell which side he was on–nor did you care.  I guess that was “the suspense” but who cares what some post-Alpha man-in-a hat feels?

While Hillary’s plans and proposals were not part of “the circus,”  one three-syllable word was a part of the circus:  Hillary’s “Too-ghe-ther.”  Was that one word perhaps a dog whistle?  An elephant whistle?  A lion whistle?  A plan?  A proposal?  A policy?  We relived the pneumonia and the pussy.  Did we see the crowds at Hillary rallies?  No–except the one in Philly for Barack and Michelle and Bruce Springsteen.  That was a crowd!  Wow.  It was happening!  And we got to see a couple of “attacks” during those Trump rallies and to replay him saying he’d like to punch the guy in the face.  But there were lines for Hillary on November 7th.  There we all were, are, will be – breathlessly awaiting 8 years of Hill-Ahhh-Ree, emphasis on no syll-la-bull.

What these two journalists demonstrated was the depth of their expense accounts and the sway of their bias.  They could only trip over their own bias and the facility with which Trump apparently loosened their tongues so that they could speak actively and repeatedly of one another’s “schlongs.”  They were two “fans” with their very own scholongs out on the town(s) with deep expense accounts.  Parading journalists.  That was this circus.  The price of admission was paying attention to them.

For days and weeks and months these insiders get the American Dream:  to eat in so many high caloric restaurants around the country. My husband and I used to fantasize about doing that:  eating here, then eating there, then some more eating over there.  We never could do it due to having to stay home and work.  But to be so important that you could get paid to go eat out and someone with a video camera would be there to help us watch you eat.  What glory! What importance!  And between bites try to be interested in each other and interesting too.  What a life!   What a circus!  We saw them eating again and again and again.  We even got to see Kasich eat.  This booth, that booth.  Sausage, Martinis, steak, fried breakfasts, more Martinis, beer, waffles.  What stomachs they must have!  To eat that Iowa food!  New Hampshire food!  and oh the great and sophisticated Washington DC food and, oh my, that insider Brooklyn food.  And their comments on food.  Oh, to die for!  And the campaign workers, too:  ditto calories, ditto expense accounts, ditto flaccid sarcasm.  These boring people have fun–if boring people can have fun.  They seem to try.  I wonder if they impress themselves?  They seem to try to impress each other.

Not caring to watch food get masticated in their mouths or drinks slip down their gullets, during this particular tv series binge, I turned to tidying up, preparing my own meals, biceps exercises, and just keeping this series on in the background, moving my laptop around from room to room in my house, as was the campaign “on in the background” all year long.  I have to admit it was interesting to have a year crammed in to a few short days–the exhilaration, the shock, the horror, the disappointment, the consternation, the up-giving.  To see the attempt after attempt after attempt to declare Trump dead and then see him rise again with a change of topic.  No detritus stuck to him no matter how dirty the dirt was.  Supporters laughed it off or even vaunted it on their T-shirts and signs. With each new heap of dirt there followed the journalists’ chin flapping in their utter horror at his dismissal of their dismay.  Trump, defying his own party, defying the other party, defying the press, defying the notion that you need committees, reports, focus groups–defying history and, most importantly, defying money.

Meantime Trump munched on MacDonald’s, solo, delivered to his gold encrusted plane, while staring off into something invisible.  What did he see?

To think–to realize–that we have been taken by commentators’ and journalists’ attempts to analyse stuff as though they have some special intelligence that I or my neighbor or the guy next to me in the line at Costco might lack is where the Circus lies.   It lies in their lies.  These Washington-media-insiders got deep expense accounts by dint of fate, not by any special insight, intelligence, or their on-screen performance skills.  Somehow, fate just gave them these jobs.  What they actually “have” was:  nothing.  When their candidate lost that night, after 16 months of blinding themselves to the vacuity of the too-ghe-ther message, they went onto the Stephen Colbert show and one declared, “Outside of the Civil War and World War II and even including 9/11, tonight is the most cataclysmic event in our history.”  Oh, my.   That bad.  How they missed the heart stirrings in that deplorable basket.  Heart stirrings?  Isn’t that …. racism?

This was no joke:  he might write Trump up on that White House.

I still have friends reeling from November 8th, wounded as if from a broken love affair or from the untimely death of a parent.  Back in 2008, I heard that Bill Clinton was said to have said that primary elections are emotional and general elections are intellectual.  I thought that was an astute observation.  During the typical primary we have our hearts involved with which candidate we really “feel” for, which one might be “the one”–the special curl of the hair, the posture (poor John Kasich), the turn of phrase, the certain je ne sais quoi.   But then, once selected by the voters on our team, we move on with our heads to our party’s choice and we begin to argue intelligently for a set of policies:  a side.  But last year?  In 2016, we moved right on with our hearts to embrace our choice or to repel the other side’s choice.  We stuck to–clung to–the General Election with Love or Hate.  If you didn’t love your candidate so well, you at least hated the other very well.  We endorsed a General Election candidate with a je ne sais quoi and we lost our heads.  The Clinton Era clearly is in the wake now, along with Bill’s insight about the distinction between a Primary and a General.  Emotion is now center stage – and who’s to say one person’s emotion is better than or more intelligent or more astute than another’s?

What will guide us from January 20th onwards?  Our hearts or our heads?  Clearly, we henceforth can rely on ourselves and our intelligent neighbors and associates.  We can give thanks to the exposure of the on-screen “experts” who, it turns out were only expert at ordering second martinis and trotting out platitudes.  We no longer have to listen to talking heads.   Think of all the time we save.  They are no more than pretty or not-so-pretty faces with deep pockets for martinis and sausages.

If we turn them off and turn to the feeling and mentations inside ourselves maybe we can learn something.  As jeremy Naydler put it, we must “inform the heart and warm the mind.”  January 20th:  Get ready.  It’s coming – faster than you can whip an elephant.

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