A Frank Rich Column, from Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
From the New York Times, Wednesday, November 3, 2010
America’s Brats and the WWE-ing of America
-By Frank Rich
It’s an easy metaphor to say that America threw a temper tantrum last night. While that is clearly the case, I think there is something much more infantile, much more insidious afoot in American politics, and President Barack Obama had better size this up quickly, or his dream for a fair, compassionate, environmentally sane United States will vanish like the hope and goodwill he fostered in his first presidential campaign. He had better come to terms with how vapid, silly and sickly inconsistent the American voter has become, or he will be swept up in, rather than be able to control, the tsunami of ignorant, childrish hatred that bared its ugly canines last night.
Yes, America threw a temper tantrum. It sat like a 5-year-old girl, holding its breath until it turned purple because America had the temerity to elect a Harvard Educated black man. It fussed and screamed because there were those that dared to dream that we, the most prosperous nation on earth, could provide affordable health care to all American. America sucked it’s thumb and screeched that it didn’t want to regulate the money-changers on Wall Street, or force the filthy energy bosses to clean up their messes.
Like any good spoiled brat, America on election night, last night, stamped its feet and screamed holy hell. But, like I say, there is something more at work here than your garden-variety temper tantrum. I think what we witnessed last night, as one temperate, controlled, dignified lawmaker after another was turned aside like so much used clothing, was the WWE-ing of America.
What, you may wonder, is the WWE? Ask your five-year-old. They can tell you. Also, there are certain devotees of illegal liquor in the backwoods of Appalachia who can likely fill you in. And in the drunk tanks of the county pokee. Of course, all of the petulant Tea Party folks in Connecticut can also tell you what the WWE is, now that Linda McMahon, the titular head of the WWE is now their newly-minted Senator. Frankly, I can scarcely think of a better emblem for the election of 2010 than Ms. McMahon. She is the wife of Vince McMahon, who, together brought the spectacle of World Wrestling Entertainment into some of America’s living rooms. The McMahons are both flesh-and-blood cartoons, but, in the America we berthed last night, America yearns for the infantile, the churlish, the childish. And the ersatz.
Nothing is more fake than World Wrestling Entertainment. Worse yet, everybody KNOWS it is fake. The serial plot lines are hatched months in advanced, the moves are as choreographed as the Bolshoi. And yet, those easily manipulated in the vast audience of World Wrestling Entertainment hold out some sort of weird fantasy that maybe, just maybe, tonight it will be REAL.
And in this sense, this is what they expected from the ballots they cast last night. Maybe this time, if we elect “Patriotic” Republicans, they won’t give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. Maybe this time, Republicans won’t get us into illegal wars for the benefit of their richest benefactors. Maybe if we elect enough Republicans this time, the deficit will go down, even as we fight useless, unending conflicts that cost trillions around the globe. And finally, maybe this time, if we elect Republicans, they will cut my taxes even as I demand more services from the government.
Everybody KNOWS this is fake, phony, impossible. But, if the WWE can convince enough folks to believe the unbelievable, then the Tea Party backers can certainly convince enough people to believe that Republicans will do the right thing this time.
All you had to do was listen to a few victory speeches last night to pick up the cadence, the rhythms of the fake and phony. From Sharon Angle, who barely eked out a win over the extremely vulnerable Harry Reid: “Tonight” said she, to the utter delight of the WWE’ers in the audience, “We fired Harry Reid”. As if this group of petulant little kids even knew about the hiring process, or how Harry Reid rose from high desert squalor to the pinnacles of power in Washington. Or, this from the Donny Osmond of the Tea Party, Marco Rubio: “Freedom is never free, and tonight we stand vigilant”. As if. Most of the people savoring this moment as they surrounded Rubio in the Grand Ballroom of the Miami Marriott think vigilance has something to do with erectile dysfunction. And my favorite quote of the night, as the Republicans gained 71 House Seats, and took control of the United States Senate by running the board, including California, came from a Mr. Dan Banischek, the erstwhile Tea Party “Doctor”, who, when informed of his victory over his democrat opponent seemed assured, he said “Well. The people have spoken”.
Such rousing oratory. No wonder the WWE-ers inhale the puffery.
But, still, these children of America drink in the ersatz, the fake: It is why the WWE thrives, and why Republicans have once again found a home. I just hope America is still around when they wake up from the all-night binge.