Theatre of the Absurd

T

Has anybody paused to wonder how Mike Pence managed to snag tickets to Hamilton on such short notice. Or why? One can only assume that Mr. Pence has as much interest in sitting in a theatre jam packed with folks on all points of the color and sexual orientation spectrum as I do in attending a Loyal White Knights rally.

Curiouser and curiouser. Mike “you whipped out that Mexican thing again” Pence, sitting front and center at Hamilton, daydreaming about conversion therapy while he yearns to be sitting at The Nutcracker watching real sugar plum fairies dance. Some boos and a brief lecture — a small price to pay, I suppose, for new found national name recognition and the chance to be number one on the wait list for a pretty cool job.

Bring on the tweet storm. Insane, unprecedented, infuriating. And brilliant. Once again, he who shall not be named changes the narrative, bumping the real concerning stuff — white nationalism in the White House, the transitioning of our government into a family dynasty, the defrauding of lots and lots of regular folks with a fake university, a president elect literally hiding in a gilt penthouse bunker while he builds a decidedly un-American cabinet and wishes he could just grab some pussy and fly around in his toy plane and play a few rounds of golf — and making petty shit the lead story.

So what do you think of your new President? In Paris, as soon as someone realized we were American, the question was raised — by an Uber driver, a waiter, a chemistry professor from Paris on her way to participate in a symposium at Northwestern.

Our president elect is a lot of things, most of which make him uniquely unqualified for his new job. But one thing he is not is stupid. He is downright cunning, and he loves games; though I really don’t know what a “winning temperament” is, I believe him when he says he has it. What better way to incite a bit of alt-righteous indignation than to plunk a diversity-averse white guy into the heart of Broadway. Brilliant.

Ah, so you’re American. That was my taxi driver yesterday morning, when I sheepishly told him which airline I was headed to at Charles de Gaulle. For the first time in my life, I felt embarrassed, certain that this man — an immigrant trying to make a living in Paris — was judging me, and rightfully so. We have somehow handed over enormous power to a man and his minions who are quite frank in their view that only certain lives matter, that discrimination is a good thing, and that big government is bad except when it comes to taking control over women’s wombs.

I get the economic divide, and I’m all for everyone clawing their way out of their insular and non-intersecting bubbles and understanding how the other guys feel. I live in kind of a fringe sub-bubble among folks who think renovating a kitchen is the worst thing a person can go through. That is not to say that privilege and self-awareness are mutually exclusive; a friend once laughed at herself after she claimed her day had gotten all messed up because the landscapers showed up late. I know there are folks outside my own bubble who would happily trade their own woes for my divorce driven economic downturn any day.

We need to beware of taking the bait, letting our president elect provoke us and then distract us with absurd and whiny tweets, lest we miss the point. Frankly, his immaturity and his propensity to say ridiculous things (and make ridiculous promises) is our biggest hope. As President Obama has assured foreign leaders, the new guy is simply pragmatic. Policy is secondary — if that.

We can mock all we want, but we should be mindful of the nonsense. Fool us once, shame on him. Fool us twice, shame on all of us. There’s a lot of scary shit going on in that penthouse — one wonders how there was even time for an evening of theatre — and that’s what we need to be watching.