Sean Spicer swings like a trapeze artist, changing his defense of the latest tweet from the White House cellar. He is in the spotlight, at least when he is not hiding in the bushes, and it’s beginning to burn his soul. How can a man retain what is left of his tattered dignity while at the same time trying desperately to fend off the serious questions of a press corps that smells blood? It is a thrilling performance, and even Melissa McCarthy on Saturday Night Live can’t match his acrobatics.
Jared Kushner poses and snaps his fingers as he corrals investors into his latest presentation, promising immigration in exchange for cash. Then, in a different role, he appears in the ring to whisper into the ringmaster’s ear, prompting him on details of the next act.
Way up on the high wire, Reince Priebus is swaying in the winds of Trump’s bluster, trying to manage a White House that is more chaotic than a three-ring circus with the big top tent on fire. One misstep and he will surely fall to his demise. But will the crowd gasp, or do they expect it as part of the show?
In the shadows, wiping the greasepaint from his pockmarked face, is Steve Bannon. His white-face clown act is largely over, but he still plays a role behind the scenes. He still orchestrates the dark music that accompanies this show.
And there, perched high atop an elephant, is Ivanka. Bedecked and bedazzled in feathers and jewels, she distracts the crowd from the sadistic trainer who mercilessly prods the lumbering beast with a steel hook — a monstrous animal trampling the crowds of poor rural supporters too dazzled by her beauty to notice they are being crushed. Isn’t she beautiful? Isn’t she smiling? Isn’t she enough to keep everyone calm?
And in the center ring is what the crowd has been waiting for, the trained monkeys! Jabbering and leaping from platform to platform, they would be thrilling — if they followed their script. But they don’t.
Instead, they climb over each other, scuffling to reach the man in the top hat, the ringmaster, with his bright yellow hair poking out from the rim of his tall black hat, his orange greasepaint glaring in the beam of the arc light. He might look resplendent were it not for the profuse flow of sweat that betrays his illusion of control.
It is those monkeys who seem to be running the show, but even they can’t keep up with the irrational ringmaster. In their suits, with their American flag pins on their lapels, they wave their arms high to get his attention. But none of them are brave enough to approach.
They are cowed by the tiny whip he holds, cracking it occasionally — just loud enough to halt them in their tracks, to send them back to their chamber, until they scramble out again to pose and jump about at the next photo opportunity.
Behind the tent, in “clown alley,” Michael Flynn and the other former buffoons are removing their costumes and slinking away. Their acts served their purpose, but this circus no longer needs their services. Maybe they can find work in a Russian circus somewhere?
Outside the tent, in the ticket office, the Russians have packed up their tools, gathered their receipts and tossed away the extra tickets.
They know how this show ends, and they have other shows to conduct.
Meanwhile, We the audience are left to enjoy the spectacle, or gasp in horror at the insanity of it all. While We are enraptured by the show, We fail to notice that the tent is really ablaze. The flames are already licking at the racial and ethnic minorities sitting in the cheap seats, and the smoke is making folks in the LGBTQ boxes cough.
Still, nobody tries to quench the flames. Nobody runs to the exit. Nobody moves, all staying transfixed by the awesome and horrific spectacle before us.
If you haven’t grown tired of this tortured metaphor, I direct your attention to your programs. In them you will find the answer to the whole messy madness, in Article II, Section 4 of the program:
“The president, vice president and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
In the footnotes it explains that first we have to convict them, and for that to happen, We the audience must demand an independent investigation. We the audience must move to stop the chaos.
So We can either grab another bag of popcorn and continue to watch as we are consumed by the flames, or we can grab the water buckets and start putting out this blazing national nightmare.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 19, 2017.