Political satire, liberal style

You remember Robert Reich, don’t you? He was Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, serving during the first administration. He’s now a Berkeley prof and a blogger. Turns out he’s also a playwright, and his play “Public Exposure: An Indecent Political Farce,” is being performed in Santa Rosa, about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco.

Before I describe the play, let me remind you that Reich served a liberal president who almost fell out of office because he couldn’t keep his distinguished (that is bent) organ of reproduction tightly zipped. Do you have that thought well in mind? Also, are you familiar with the psychiatric disorder called “projection”? “Projection” is defined as “A defense mechanism, operating unconsciously, in which what is emotionally unacceptable in the self is unconsciously rejected and attributed (projected) to others.” 

Okay, now that you’ve placed in the forefront of your mind both the nature of the Presidency in which Reich served and the meaning of projection, you should enjoy the plot summary our local paper gives of Reich’s play:

Dodds Delzell, an outstanding actor at the College of Marin during its Golden Era who has since performed with many Bay Area companies, is perfectly cast as Bill Humphrey, a TV talk show host whose world view is somewhere to the right of Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. The opening minutes are a minor masterpiece of timing and discipline. Hands clasped on a curved desk, an expressionless Delzell sits zombielike as he waits for the cameras to roll. The only sign he is alive is a series of carefully spaced throat clearings. Then, as the on-air light flashes, he breaks into a maniacal grin and begins to skewer his guests. Each verbal homicide is accompanied by the thumbs up gesture that symbolizes the show’s slogan, “We expose, you watch.” It’s simultaneously chilling and fascinating.

Citing his enormous popularity, Humphrey’s ex-wife, producer and associate host, Irma Sunquist (energetically interpreted by Sheri Lee Miller), proposes that he make himself available as a candidate for president. If he wins, she intends to be his administration’s Karl Rove.

“You’ll have all the attention,” she tells him, “I’ll have the power.”

At first, Humphrey resists because he has a secret. For some time he has been seeing the head of the Langwell Clinic, a practice famous for its celebrity makeovers, seeking help in correcting an embarrassing physical defect. The problem is with (here’s where the need for delicacy enters) his “member.” Specifically, it’s bent. To the left. As Irma drily observes when she learns about it: “Who would have imagined? Bill Humphrey … a lefty!”

Ray Langwell, the clinic’s head (played with droll authority by Tim Kniffen), is eager to effect a cure. His dream is to straighten the millions of other bent members in the world, using the marketing slogan, “Hang well with Langwell.” Happily for both, success finally comes, which Humphrey takes as a sign that he can win the presidential race against liberal Gov. Louise Hutton (company veteran mollie boice, who likes to keep her names lower-cased) by exposing his restored symmetry as a way of demonstrating to the voters that he has nothing to hide.

You can imagine what happens next, although Reich’s plot ultimately takes a surprising and somewhat unconvincing turn. Have no fear, however, that what you see will be particularly shocking. It’s all in the spirit of good fun, neatly timed to complement the other absurdities of this election year.

So, Reich who served a liberal President with a bent penis that he figuratively flashed throughout the entire world, has written a play in which it is a conservative talk show host who has the bent penis that he flashes to the entire world.  Projection, anyone?

Another point I feel compelled to make here is the fact that Clinton’s escapades so degraded the tone of the Presidency that nobody thinks there’s anything untoward in a former Labor Secretary of the United States of America writing what amounts to a pretty tawdry political farce.  One of the things that I’ve really appreciated about the Bush White House is the complete absence of sex scandals.  I have enough problems explaining to my elementary school children why Vanessa Hudgens is naked in pictures splashed across magazines and the internet or why Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant at 16 by a teenager to whom she’s not married.  I can’t imagine what parents of the late 1990s went through trying to explain sordid Presidential oral sex and cigars to their young ‘uns.

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Who cares about the book? Read the review.

Noemie Emery has read and reviewed Bill Clinton : Mastering the Presidency, by Nigel Hamilton. Having read the review, I say, “The heck with the book.  The review is so wonderfully written, you can’t do better.”  After discussing Hamilton’s fevered Kennedy biography, one so malevolent in its approach to old Joe that the family withdrew its support for the originally planned additional volumes, Hamilton turned his emotional energies to Bill Clinton.  Here is what Noemie has to say, with my favorite part highlighted:

In the Kennedy book, Inga Arvad [Kennedy’s first love] and Joe Kennedy were not central figures, and did not completely unbalance the story. In this book, one’s luck does not hold. In this one, the crush is Bill Clinton himself, and the bêtes noires are his enemies–the racists, bigots, primates, low-lives, KKK rejects, and cross and/or heretic burners–who constitute the modern conservative movement and who, largely for reasons of sexual jealousy, focused their wrath on poor Bill.

The result is neither a case nor a narrative, but rather an adjective dump, in which truckloads of words–all meaning the same thing, and sometimes the same words, used over and over–are trundled over to the appropriate objects and unloaded on them, in a torrent of excess and overkill. If your politics are of the MoveOn.org genre, and your taste in literature is an Al Gore tirade mixed with the gushings of Barbara Cartland, then this is a book you will cherish. If not, you have been warned.

Just a reminder that Rudy’s marital history probably shouldn’t matter

If I didn’t say this would happen over and over again, I certainly hinted at it or, at least, laid the groundwork for its inevitability.

I’ll just add here that it’s the height of chutzpah that Hillary (by proxy) is leading the attack against Rudy Giuliani on marital grounds.  Unlike the other Demo candidates who appear to have pretty strong and apparently normal marriages, Hillary’s marriage with Bill, while it has lasted, falls a little too neatly into the traditional paradigm of the abused, weak women clinging desperately to her abusive, womanizing husband.  (This citation will lead you to the some of the worst that has been said about the marriage.  Even if some of it is false hearsay, Bill’s repeated, public sexual transgressions lead to the inevitably conclusion that at least some of it is true.)  Is Hillary really the candidate who wants to have marriage made fair game?

(And sorry for the light blogging today, but work called and I had to answer.)

You’d think he could dig into his own pockets for this one

It turns out that President Clinton’s almost compulsive globe trotting costs American taxpayers a lot of money — this year, he’s trying to stick the people for $1.16 million in expenses. His spokespeople justify the cost on the ground that he’s simply a spiffy, wonderful goodwill ambassador for the world. (forget the fact that nobody asked him to take on that job on our dime).

Aside from Clinton’s volunteering to spend your money and my money like water, there are a few tidbits in the same article that make his charge against the American people more than usually irritating. First is the fact that a large part of the bill he’s submitting to us comes from his New York rent, because New York office space is so much more expensive than that in other cities. Now, I personally don’t recall asking him to headquarter himself in the most expensive city in America? Did you? And if he voluntarily chooses to pay a premium to be near the best babes . . . um, I mean business opportunities, should we be forced to pay for that decision?

The other little tidbit was the fact that Clinton has earned nearly $40 million in six and a half years. That’s not Hillary’s money. Just Bill’s. And that doesn’t even count the $191,000 pension the American taxpayers give him annually (money that I’m okay about). And speaking of that nearly $40 million in speaking fees, money he’s pocketed without regard to us, it appears that he’s booked some of those engagements using phones he’s now trying to charge to the American taxpayers. Oh, and did I mention that he wants to have us pay an extra $10,000 a year for added health insurance, a surprising overlay given his wife’s superb Senatorial coverage?

Considering Bill’s huge income, and potential income, not to mention his “I’m one of you little people” position, you’d think that he could donate his costs to the American people. For him, the $1.16 mil he’s sticking us for is a drop in the bucket.

I would say shame on him, but the man clearly has no shame. I guess he’s happy to join John Edwards, John Kerry and the other members of the millionaire and billionaire club that increasingly make up the “ruling class” of the Democratic party. (A point I throw in because I’m just sick of Leno jokes about the Republican’s being the party of the rich.)