Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Fusion of Left and Right

Maybe I should have titled this "cat on a hot tin roof", but that one was taken.

The subconscious sometimes works in strange and mysterious ways, and while watching this very funny clip from the old Northern Exposure series, a flash of light from above hit me in the head with a little artistic perspective of metaphor and crass symbolism. The lesson today from the Twilight Zone is: the meaning of the budget deal that really is nothing of the sort, raising the debt ceiling a couple trillion dollars (the biggest in history), letting Bush tax cuts expire (we'll pay $5T more over the next ten years), and which abdicates Congressional authority for future tax increases to a committee.

But even if you're sick to death of what goes on in the cesspool of D.C., you gotta laugh sometime.  Watch this clip, but let me set it up first.

Maggie O'Connell (Janine Turner) is an independent businesswoman, an Alaskan bushpilot operating from the town of Cicely, Alaska, somewhere near the Arctic Circle.  She's also what is known as a "black widow" -- a girl for whom every boyfriend she's ever had has died in a bizarre accident.

Her latest boyfriend is Rick, a smiling, good-looking guy now going through a mid-life crisis because Maggie won't give him his pilot's license (she's his instructor) because she's learned he's color-blind. So Rick is angry with her and now run off into the Alaskan woods to drink and sulk and think in front of a campfire as owls hoot around him. Staring into the embers he hears a whistling sound from high above and looks up...

Think of Rick as John Boehner and the traditional Republican Party, his color-blindness an inability to think in principles, his campfire as the debt ceiling negotiations, and those owls as all the pundits and pressure groups exhorting him to make a compromise.

Think of Maggie as the Tea Party, or the better part of the American public at least, angry with Rick for refusing to do what's right.

Think of a de-orbitting satellite as Obama and the Democrats making a deal with Rick.

Now on to our story: we pick up as Joel Fleischman, the resident doctor of Cicely,  is brought to the scene of Rick's untimely demise:

Joel: How did it happen?

Ed:  Satellite fell on him.

Joel: A satellite?  It hit Rick? That satellite hit Rick?

Maurice: Well not the whole satellite.  Some of it disintegrated coming in.  But a good part of it, yeah.

Joel: Oh, man.

Ed: Yeah, there's a problem.

Joel: A problem?  You mean more than him being dead?

Maurice: Come on, you'd better take a look.

Joel: Oh, god!

Maurice:  I've been in combat. I've seen men die a hundred different ways. I've never, ever seen anything like this.

Joel: Look at him!

Ed: Yeah.

Joel: It's like Rick and the satellite... it's like they--

Maurice:  Merged.  Fused.  Combined into one.

(Ed turns away)

Joel (staring in horror):  How does something like this happen?

Maurice: It's your basic physics. Let me describe re-entry for you. When this thing hit the Earth's atmosphere it was going 15,000 miles an hour.  The friction was terrific.  This baby came in hot!

Ed: Boy, Rick sure was lucky!

Joel: Lucky? He's dead!

Ed: Yeah, but how many people get to get hit by a satellite! I bet he makes the Guinness Book of World Records!

Maurice:  So Joel.  How do you plan on getting them apart?

Joel: Why ask me?  You think they teach this in medical school?  You don't need a doctor, you need a blacksmith! A metallurgist!

Ed: Yeah, it's kinda hard to tell where Rick stops and the satellite begins!

Maurice:  I guess we'd better face the fact, these two are inseparable.

As the town doctor, Joel gets stuck with the job of telling Maggie her boyfriend is dead. The parallel here is how the American public is now learning the real details of the debt deal,  which are much worse than anything we were told.  Joel finds Maggie in the local pub:

Joel (uncomfortable): Hi Maggie, how are things?

Maggie:  Rick didn't come home last night, okay?  If he wants to behave like a child, then let him!  I mean, if I have to be the bad guy, okay!  But I am not going to have another death on my hands! I mean, alright, I admit, I do -- I'm sensitive. I've lost four boyfriends.  Four!  Do you know how that feels?  And of course I ask myself, is that me?  Is that something I do?  What is it Fleischman?  You want to tell me something, I can tell by your face.

Joel (more uneasy): Yes. Yes... I do. I want to tell you something. (speechless) ...A joke!

Maggie: A joke?

Joel: Yeah!  You see, this guy goes on a trip and he leaves his cat with his friend.  He calls his friend to ask how his cat is. His friend says, "The cat is dead."  The guy says, "Geez!  Can't you think of a way to break it to me a little more gently?  You know, lead into it, your cat crawled up on the roof, there was a loose tile and it took a little fall... like that?"  Next month, the guy goes on another trip, calls his friend, and asks how his mom is. The guy says, "well, she crawled up on the roof and there was a loose tile."

Maggie (laughs) Not bad!

Joel (leans forward earnestly):  Rick crawled up on the roof.

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