Idealism is a Hothouse Flower

We’ve taken a much needed break from writing about political things here. It’s better for our mental and digestive health that we do so. But today we couldn’t resist a brief return to the bread and circuses.

We’ve been feeling a little better about politics lately. No, politics has not changed, but we have redefined some terms and lowered some expectations. Idealism is a hothouse flower.

When it comes to the American political scene, “feeling better,” for those of us who insist on thinking about such things, is perhaps more accurately described as “not feeling sick all the time.” In order to achieve this dubious improvement, we needed a new working definition of “president.” See if this works for you, too: “A president is a politician chosen from a small group of people selected by corporations. An aspiring president says whatever is necessary to get elected. Once elected, the president can then pursue whatever personal political agenda is necessary for re-election, as long as the corporate agenda is fulfilled.”

Let us pause for a moment to reflect on the possibility that those of us who appreciate irony are drawn to politics because irony occurs so often in that realm. Perhaps we’re getting a little sick of irony too, but this next case could appear as an example in a Wikipedia definition:

Trump orders a missile attack on Syria during a visit from Chinese President Xi. Did you catch that? The fact that Trump’s first “superpower” meeting is with Xi and not, as many would have suspected, with Putin? Of course to accuse the Russians of being a superpower we have to ignore the fact that the Russian economy is smaller than that of Texas, but they do have a lot of nuclear missiles.

Nevertheless, it all makes for great political theater, unless you are one of the unfortunate people killed during the attack. (We might add to our working definition of “president” something about the ability to kill people in foreign lands without being charged with murder.) Trump warns the Russians before the attack, giving Syria time to move their jets from the air base about to be destroyed. The Russians appear to be outraged. Trump appears to dispel the notion that he is actually a Russian agent. The Syrian jets continue their own attacks. Defense stocks soar.

The left accuses Trump of starting World War 3, although Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer praise the attack. Hillary Clinton agrees and reminds us that she had already suggested such an attack long before Trump ordered it. In Stockholm, discussion begins on nominating Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize, although he has much more bombing to do to catch up with Obama. Defense stocks soar.

“Disgraced” talking head, Brian Williams, refers to pictures of the attacks as “beautiful,” and quotes a line from a Leonard Cohen song: “I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.” (Add “The ability to lie to the public without disgrace” to our working definition of “president.”) Defense stocks soar.

Meanwhile, ever the gracious host, Trump tells Xi that an American aircraft carrier is headed toward Korean waters. Xi appears to be concerned, but not overly concerned. The planes on board that carrier were probably built with components manufactured in China. You guessed it. Defense stocks soar.

Did we offend anyone today? If we did, let us hope that the offense taken is from a concern for humanity rather than any political grievance. As always, letters to the editor are encouraged, and you are invited to comment on our blog at If you do, a note of caution: you might want to brush up on your sarcasm, as it seems to be a second language for many of us who spend too much time thinking about politics and politicians.





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