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Feb 03 2010

Op-Ed: – The Island Curmudgeon – Time to lighten up: Let’s go to the three ring circus

trapeze artistBy William J. Duggan

When I was a little boy many years ago, my father took me to the circus. It was a very exciting experience. The lights, the colors, the music, the entertainers, and the animals simply enthralled me; especially the clowns. In my old age, I am once again thrilled by the Three Ring Circus which comes into our family room via internet or TV almost every day. The circus is known as the U.S. Congress. It is exciting to see the House perform and the Senate entertain.

One night I saw on the far left ring, the speaker of the house tip toeing on the high wire. At one end of her balance pole dangled the liberal left wing Democrats, and on the other end dangled the Blue Dogs. Ms. Pelosi wore tights, which complimented her personality. She did not acknowledge the applause of the audience, but concentrated only on her deft footwork.

In the middle ring, I saw a man dressed in a tuxedo. He was short and thin. The Senate Majority Leader waved a baton to guide his fellow Democrats in that most beautiful of songs, “Happy Days are Here Again”. He has been very successful in shoving bills down the throats of his fellow Democrats. And he continues to press on with the Crap and Fade bill. Harry is not pleased with the singers, many of whom seem to be off-key. When some Republicans began to sing along, Harry threw down his baton and ordered the Republicans to leave. After all, this song fest was for Democrats only.

In the far right ring there was a conglomerate of clowns riding around in circles in undersized cars. The cars were decorated with signs: Health Care, Cap and Trade, Stimulus Plus, Close Gitmo, Get Wall Street, and others. A majority of clowns were dressed in blue clown suits. A minority were dressed in red clown suits. Alan Specter has blue from the waist down and red from the waist up. Olympia Snow and Susan Collins wore purple clown suits which were a perfect combination of red and blue.

When I was growing up (some question whether I ever did) the two big names in the circus world were Barnum and Bailey and the Ringling Brothers. Today, the above circuses are known as the Biden and Barney and the Dingaling Brothers. They recently merged into simply, the Dingalings. This circus boasts of having some of the best minds on its board. Barney Frank is in charge of housing the clowns. Chris Dodd is in charge of the clown Bank. Henry Waxman is in charge of the Impeach Bush clown club. Alan Specter, when not clowning around, is in charge of the Judicial Committee.

Every circus has an interlocutor, a puppeteer, a task master, a maestro. His job is to see that the clowns do as he wishes. He cracks the whip and the clowns respond. He is also the idea man. He has come up with such marvelous ideas. Let’s close Gitmo. Let’s send the Yemeni inmates back to Yemen. Let’s try the terrorists in our civil courts so the world can see our Justice system and our Intelligence methodologies. Public trials are the best platforms for terrorists’ propaganda. Let’s not give Poland or Czechoslovakia a missile shield. Let’s agree to cut our nuclear warheads and hope the Russians will follow suit. Let’s cut funding for Medicare to allow our senior citizens to die a little sooner. This will help pay for the healthcare plan. Let’s have a universal healthcare system which will bankrupt the nation. Let’s do another Stimulus bill since the previous ones have met with limited success. Let’s tax the rich. Let’s tax the corporations just a little more. Let’s tax stock and bond trading, especially if profits are earned. Let’s run the banks. Let’s run the auto industry. Let’s bypass Congress by setting up Czars. Let’s blame the Bush administration for everything that seems to go wrong.

With a look of confidence, the maestro picks up a baton as a sign that it is time again for another song. The maestro is joined by the lady in tights and by the little man in the tuxedo. The three sing in perfect harmony that lovely old ballad, “Behind Closed Doors”.

William Duggan is a former political columnist for the Palmetto Connection and a Johns Island resident. He can be reached at

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