You know the scene in The Godfather (the movie or the novel) where the mob bosses gather ’round a table — though not a round table, a nice touch — and the character played by Marlon Brando in the movie — I also liked him in The Chase; but I also liked him in On the Waterfront; plus also I liked him in A Streetcar Named Desire and several others, even Burn!, frankly I think he was the best American actor of his time with the possible exception of Gary Cooper, who was a bit older, or maybe Peter O’Toole, who was English, but in the international brotherhood of film art who is going to complain? So, let’s stay on point and talk about Gabriel Byrne.
They sit at the table and the Brando character, a fictional takeoff on a real-life person named Salvatore (“Lucky” ) Luciano, whose sobriquet was inspired by his skill at dominos and who contributed to the Allied win in World War II, though on the downside he caused quite a bit of damage to law and order and civic rectitude in New York City — viz., On the Waterfront — says to the assembled businessmen, who do not trust one another and for good reason, for they are dishonest businessmen, a qualification of weight, he says, I paraphrase, “Let bygones be bygones,” because if the bygones don’t go by, business will suffer. Risk of citywide gang war, economic hardship.
I do not mean to be histrionic and make outrageous comparisons between gangsters and American politicians, but I always liked that scene because it just about sums up what you should be thinking when you hear some pol pronounce the word “bipartisanship.” That is a misconception. Politics is war by other means — and that’s what is great about it, for notwithstanding the treachery and illegality and no-prisoners-taken (as demonstrated in the power-struggle taking place in Washington, D.C., even as I write these lines), it sure beats the way they work things out in, say, Yemen. But there are limits. You need truces until the blood, figuratively speaking, can be mopped up and then start flowing again into the Potomac River, turning it red, though I always suspected politicians are bloodless, figuratively speaking.
I know I made a clever critique of media self-referencing in a recent contribution, but facts are facts and in fact it was me, and not Mr. Tyrrell, a reasonable man, who said right after the election of ’16 everybody take a deep breath and calm down. This advice was not taken. However, Mr. Tyrrell reminisced he once had to “lawyer up” due to the Clinton White House attacking his freedom as an American and a Chicagoan. It turns out that all the principals in the current figurative bloodletting in Alabama are lawyers, including the U.S. Attorney General whose vacant Senate seat triggered the battle. Makes you think, don’t it? However, they do not look like the lawyers Mr. Tyrrell assembled to protect him, who he says looked rather like the ones in the movie. Above referenced.
Some sober observers consider that the politics-as-bloodsport has got to the point where the Dems look like conspirators trying to pull off a legal coup, which is an oxymoron. That means they want to overthrow the government of the Great Republic. They, however, will argue that they are pre-empting a move toward dictatorship. I refer you to Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare, for what these conflicting appreciations of our situation can lead to. To keep your wits (“when all about you are losing theirs”), I refer you also to a recent editorial in the New York Sun suggesting the prez fire the special prosecutor and get on with protecting our Constitution and our way of life.
You could come down harder, take the gloves off, and accuse them of violating the Alien and Sedition Acts, except they were repealed. And would the Republicans make use of them, were they still on the books?
I wish the media would report fairly and accurately that, as it happens, the country’s doing fine, better than during the past 16 years, with a government that has been stuck in the swamp, gridlocked, paralyzed, whatever term you like. The economy is picking up, crime is so-so but not yet reversing the downward trends of the past couple decades, I gather from experts that girls are getting married, as are boys. To each other as well as — but never mind. All this is good. So, let’s posit that, to a minimal degree, we do need a government to oversee the national parks, monuments, and so forth. Yes, I say we need a government that can protect the monuments and natural preserves against the depredations of urban elites, the same who do not care about our natural resources and the earth, for the earth, the earth does not lie. (Prizes to the first three readers who catch that one.)
So, in short, I think they should let bygones be gone and sit at a table, and it would be big of the prez to make it round, but if he is not of the stuff King Arthur was made, let it be, it’s a small thing just like the small way he behaved when the Marine Code Talker veterans paid him the respect of a visit to the White House. Just keep it in the perspective, we need a government. There are threats to our security in North Asia, as well as South Asia, as well as our southern border.
In the movie, they were all thinking about when they’d get a chance to resume the war. The problem for us, as a nation and a free Republic, is that there is permanent war against us by those who fear and hate freedom. We need a truce. It is nigh on 2018 and we got to get organized, insure the security of our country and on the homefront accomplish a modest program. One that, incidentally, may save Republican dominance in Washington in ’18 and ’20, because, boys, if that does not happen, curtains.
So: One. Win the Davis Cup. This has nothing to do with the federal government, but we ought to consider retreating from Title VI in college sports, which does not help college sports, girls or boys, and certainly not tennis. Two. Instigate wrongful termination charges against whoever fired Dusty Baker. Three. Save little Yemen. It is not that we need little Yemen, but the way to save little Yemen is to subvert big Saudi Arabia, which is to our advantage. Though of course this implies we have a plan for what happens after the coup. If we try that route, which on consideration may not be such a great idea.
Since we, as a nation, do not have a terrific record for planning the day after, instigating a coup in that sandpit may lead to a strategic “vacuum” that the Persians, traditional enemies of the Saudi Arabs, will try to fill. Well, there is always: Four. Lives of a Bengal Lancer, one of Gary Cooper’s best roles, attack those crazies from the east.
Or was it Gunga Din? Steady now. Four. addendum. While the Bengalis attack from the east, our support — are you reading this, Edward Luttwak and your employers in Defense Big Think? — to the Brave, Kurds must be timely and solid. As in Lonely are the Brave, one of Kirk Douglas’s finest roles, with a screenplay written by a commie and based on a book by Edward Abbey, great American original and defender of Western monuments and national parks. The brave Kurds can do it, assisted by American air power, lean on the Shiites and their Persian allies and keep reminding them whom to thank, eh? Which leads to: Five. Restore funding for the A-10 Thunderbolt. I may be mistaken, it is an aircraft in our arsenal that is under threat of being retired by Big Ticket men in the Pentagon. Knowledgeable readers are invited to correct me on this.
Hell of a program, you have to admit. And this; Trump on Jerusalem: The first president is the first world-leader since Truman to have understood that even if Ari Ben Canaan in Exodus was not Paul Newman’s best role (compare to Eddie Felson in The Hustler), Exodus was a film that had to be made. The prez arguably has done the most important thing since Johnson-Nixon to bring peace to the Middle East, by supporting Israel’s long-suffering campaign to force the Arabs to be honest and face reality. And in the midst of this earth-history-changing event, the Washington insiders are still trying to overturn the election? I ask you: who’s mental?
As much as the next fellow (on this paper) I agree we have to let the prez be himself because what else can anyone be? And whatever happened to the infrastructure agenda, not to mention the Great Wall of the Rio. I am waiting. Instead of threatening to wreck the great natural monuments of the West, the administration ought to be building walls, roads, bridges. Strong fences make good neighbors, and sturdy bridges let lovers be joined and make trade move from shore to shore.