Raging Moderate, by Will Durst
In an age of relentless change, it's heartening to be able to count on a few simple things. Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann ranting and raving one pulse short of an aneurism. Water flowing downhill. Congress holding hearings whose only point is to express the indignant depths of their public outrage even though our chances of learning anything is less likely than the North Korean Minister of Medicine going on Oprah to talk about Kim Jong Il's spider phobia. Its all good.
The spectacle of politics as usual is as reassuring as a warm, Vaseline-lined bathrobe. It's comforting to be reminded every now and then that no matter how urgent the crisis facing the American people, our politicians can and will find ample time to grandstand even if their self-righteous preening cancels out the eensiest possibility of actual progress. Can't wait for them to replace the gavel at these things with a hand-held mirror.
Take the recent seven-hour theatrical farce featuring Tony Hayward. Please. Strictly following the prescribed testimony demanded of these august tribunals, British Petroleum's CEO stuck to the script and adopted the role of a character afflicted with a severe case of selective amnesia. The man didn't know anything. Including which industry he was in or how to wipe that priggy smirk off his face.
Hayward's disingenuousness was so complete he actually might have put himself in jeopardy of being charged with impersonating a Congressman. The deceit, the whole deceit, and nothing but deceit. His ability to be so utterly elusive, evasive and impossible to pin down could lead to a career filling in for the Roadrunner in future Looney Tunes cartoons.
Not to mention that grilling him on technical questions was predestined to be as fruitless as Antarctica in July. As CEO of a huge corporation, he's got lackeys and minions and stooges and toadies for the heavy lifting of knowing stuff. Mr. Hayward's job is to massage shareholders and pose for the cover of yearly financial reports, and in times of trouble act as designated fire hydrant to packs of media-hungry dogs. Or cartoon coyotes posing as concerned Congressmen.
This televised dramaturgy wasn't ever about answers. This was pure stagecraft. Congressional hearings are to hypocrisy what green felt is to pool tables. Especially the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Which is code for the Big Oil Boys. The same politicians who receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions every year from the very people they're supposedly regulating. Foxes, hen houses and flying feathers spring to mind.
The only person briefly maintaining a semblance of integrity was Rep. Joe Barton, R- Exxon-Mobil, who opened the proceedings by apologizing to BP for what he called a White House "shakedown." At least this guy knows who his friends are. The very definition of an honest politician: one who stays bought.
But buyee's remorse prevailed. Mere hours later, after a quiet tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte with the biggest dogs in the Republican Party, Barton emerged to call another press conference where he retracted his apology. That's right. He apologized for his apology. For which we should apologize. Reportedly, the wolves threatened his committee seniority. And so he caved. And covered his comfortable butt. Reverted to form. Back to the normal scheme of things. Politics as usual, exponential factor four. Ain't it grand?
Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political comic who often writes. This being a curious example. Catch his one-man show, "The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion," at a performing arts center near you. His new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand Up! Records, is now available on both iTunes and Amazon. Coming this fall: "Where the Rogue Things Go."
Copyright ©2010, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate. Call Cari Dawson-Bartley at 800-696-7561 or e-mail [email protected]. Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at [email protected]. Check out willandwillie.com for the latest podcast. Will Durst's book, "The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing," is available from Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Don't forget to check out his rooftop comedy minutes at: http://www.rooftopcomedy.com/shows/BurstOfDurst.