Out of the Blue: Smirk at the circus
August 10, 2017
I'm not laughing yet, but I'm getting there.
I scoff at the idea of finding humor in our current political world because so many aspects of it are truly appalling, many to the level of tragedy (at least from my blue little corner of the world). I feel like giggling at the news of the day, whether it's an inhumane travel ban, or a limitation on legal immigration, or an alternative fact of any given scope or purpose is mean-spirited. People shouldn't make fun of things this serious.
I won't even say that it's reaching that point, though, because whenever another week comes and goes with this White House, there's a certain impossibility that percolates through news shows or Sunday newspapers. These nine events really happened? He said what? He screamed at who on his little telephone?
No, the hits just keep coming and it's inevitable at this point that even the most rosy among us have to assume that it will get worse and worse. So many liberal folks made earnest bar bets about this guy being impeached by Christmas or that he'd quit outright once he realized the position was actually hard work, but every firewall we were confident would keep this guy from going too far has vanished.
We can remain focused on the work at hand, but it might drop our respective blood pressures to at least smirk at the circus that’s currently on display.
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The thing I need to keep reminding myself is to not get swept up in the words spoken by this team in charge. Interview footage can get taken out of context, and idiocy on both sides of the aisle has an uncanny way of finding folks interested in reading about it. But while news outlets can spend hours every day dissecting quotes from political luminaries, it's incumbent on us to pay more attention than that to actions, to actual policy being adopted.
From that vantage point, the single biggest accomplishment of the Donald J. Trump era has been the naming of a Supreme Court justice, and while that's certainly an imperative action, in terms of the president's agenda, it is, dare I say, laughable. This was a guy who breathed fire about American carnage when he swore to serve the American people who had all branches of government leaning red. This thing was supposed to be a bulldozer.
But look at what has happened. Very little. I know there are documents DJT has signed that do negative things — most of them attempts to undo the legislation enacted during Obama's administration — yet compared to the bombast on the campaign trail, Trump's list of accomplishments has very little ink on it.
And I really feel like the act of slowly losing the popularity contest in his homeland is getting to him. Most of us would agree that whichever political bent you have is hard to sway — even if policies or candidates aren't exactly what we want as voters, it takes a lot to step from red to blue (or vice versa, of course) to place a contrarian vote.
Enter Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and that signature thumbs-down he gave on that health care bill that the Worst Supporting Actor Razzie Winner (Ghosts Can't Do It — 1990) wanted to be less "mean" than its predecessor. This was a shocking moment where a politician didn't stay in step with Republican cronies just because that's what you do. He voted as a representative of his constituents.
The same was the case when Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) got bullied by the president via telephone after she didn't vote the way he wanted her to. If we just paid attention to the Twitter storm-blasts, it would seem as though that epic late-night voting process was an anomalous, chaotic nightmare. But what actually occurred was far less intense.
It's important not to become complicit or disengaged with what's happening in our country — call it a resistance, if you want — but speaking just for myself, I need some humor to start piercing through the dark clouds of our political moment. We can remain focused on the work at hand, but it might drop our respective blood pressures to at least smirk at the circus that's currently on display.
I don't want to say it makes for great television, because that would give these guys way more credit than they deserve, but I'm going to do my damndest to crack a smile more, to look at the positive sides of developing news breaks.
If I don't, I feel like I'd just worry all the time.
I'm starting here: "NASA reports that it had a record 18,000 applicants to be astronauts. And apparently 1,000 more apply every time President Trump tweets." — Conan O'Brien
Mike Restaino is a writer and filmmaker based out of Incline Village. He is also a founding member of the North Tahoe Democrats. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.