Tags: Contemporary | Political | Bestiary

A Contemporary Political Bestiary

Friday, 08 February 2002 12:00 AM

These days it's unnecessary to venture to the zoo. Turn on the tube, and there they are – a mangy menagerie of enough political species to clutter several cages.

For the convenience of the taxpayers who support them, they are to be found on either side of the aisle in both houses of Congress and hanging like sloths from the press gallery.

Unless disturbed, these critters of the elected genus are inclined in the chillier months to remain in a somnolent state of semi-dormancy, living drowsily off the fat of their paunches and haunches, swollen by campaign contributions fed them through the bars they are clustered behind for their insured isolation from the real world.

During balmier clime they are known to stir from their torpor and to migrate frenetically to and from their original habitats, devouring chickens and peas and spreading assorted varieties of fertilizer atop the natives, whom they regard as mushrooms to be cultivated in the dark.

Their life spans are in renewable spasms of two and of six years, depending on which section of the zoo they belong in. They appear to have absolutely no interest in escaping. Indeed, when time does eventually come to remove them, for merciful euthanasia or to muck out the mess they have made, they emit screeches, bare teeth and claw like crazy to remain.

In the course of the nation's history, on rarest occasions there will soar over these self-caged creatures a splendid American Eagle, sturdy of wing and with fire in the eye, who senses what's happening in the greater world and knows where to go and what must be done. And is unafraid to utter it.

Even the free Eagle's shadow cast in the zoo inhabitants' vicinity is enough to cower those who fear that its very presence will cause invidious comparison or, worse yet, demands for action rising from the ranks of the taxpayers who fund their continued shelter.

This is what has now transpired at the Grand Capitol Hill Zoo. The dread disease of accountability is at last upon the inmates, and they are sore afraid. Also sore as hell.

Behold these wonders of political evolution and how they react to the challenges trust upon them by the Eagle named Bush:

Ever loath to come up with anything constructive of its own, the Whining Manger Dog complains about each novel idea the free Eagle has to offer.

In part this is because the Eagle is of another species, in part because the Whining Manger Dog didn't think of it. But mostly it is because it requires gumption and does not involve entitled dependency on the government dole.

The Whining Manger Dog does more than whine. It takes up its position, smack in the middle of the manger of everyone's prosperity, preventing anything from happening.

The likeness of the Whining Manger Dog hanging outside its cage is said to remind some zoo visitors of the present Senate plurality leader.

A prank of nature has inflicted upon this creature a shell it must carry wherever it creeps, which is its swiftest pace.

In theory – to which the occupant of the shell subscribes with all its palpitating heart – if the Hardshell Tortoise is subjected to danger or otherwise startled from its lethargy, it need only, accompanied by an unflattering sucking sound, pull its head, feet and tail inside, and no harm will come to it.

This works just dandy when the threat is small to medium. When a whopper comes along, however, the shell is of little use. This may be verified by observing those Hardshell Tortoises outside the Grand Capitol Hill Zoo that have made the mistake during rush hour of trying to cross what is known locally as the Shirley Highway.

The Hardshell Tortoises safely ensconced within the confines of the zoo get one earful of the Eagle's clarion call to patriotism and reliance upon individual initiative and ... well, there's that sucking sound again.

Sad to say, it's emanating, in varying numbers, from both sides of the zoo.

Now here's a real lulu of a political specimen. What an imposing figure it cuts, looking for all the world like a knight-and-horse in armor.

Whereas the Hardshell Tortoise totes around a static castle, the Invincible Armadillo has an arrangement of overlapping, articulating, protective, bony plates that afford it a remarkable range of mobility. It trots right along on its self-possessed errands, which consist mainly of nothing more productive than grubbing for worms and roots.

Invincible Armadillos would win no Best of Show ribbons for looks, but they do endure, so they must hold a modicum of allure for members of their opposite sex. (Do not ask in front of the children how that feat is accomplished.)

Somehow, over the years they have managed by the millions to meander up out of Mexico, into the Southwest (somebody alert Pat Buchanan to this undocumented incidence of border violation) and, even across the Mississippi River, into the Deep South.

The Invincible Armadillo is known for its unique survival mechanism. When startled by a predator, real or perceived, the spontaneous reflex is to perform a spring-loaded standing leap, as much as three feet straight up in the air. That has been known to frighten off most animals in the wild that may have fancied it for lunch.

Too bad for the Invincible Armadillo, though, the defensive reflex does not serve it well when straddled, and startled, by an 18-wheeler while ambling across an Interstate highway.

In the political world of the Grand Capitol Hill Zoo, when the Invincible Armadillo hears the Eagle's call to greatness its impulse is to go straight through the roof in sheer panic.

This motion is not to be confused with repetitive standing and applauding during a presidential State of the Union address. The Invincible Armadillos on the Democratic side of the aisle manage on those occasions to register a modest amount of alarm just by sitting on their hands and scowling.

They usually wait until they are in the halls of Congress and, planted firmly in front of television cameras and microphones, then perform their endangered-armadillo act to perfection.

Thus, the Invincible Armadillo is readily confused with the minority leader of the House of Representatives.

Sometimes known as the Capitol Press Pack, or "th' media" for short, the Suicidal Herd of Swine may be observed these days grunting and plunging in headlong fright to escape the reality of the Eagle named Bush and his overwhelming popularity with the American people.

This popular devotion and acclaim – worse yet, trust – on the part of the American electorate for their new president is simply not supposed to be.

Has not the Herd instructed those voters that the Eagle is illegitimate? That the Herd never elected him president? That he was "appointed" by the Supreme Court over their objections? That he is a dolt, a bumbler, an irresponsible loner in an international community of socialist regimes that know what's good for the United States? That he is not doing as the Herd would have him do (that is, as his predecessor in office obligingly did)?

It's just not possible that President Bush can be so popular, not when the Herd has ordained it otherwise. It is therefore the duty of the Herd to distort him into being as unpopular as is humanly possible.

"This way!" scolds the Herd, "This way!" as it races pell-mell toward the waiting Sea of Oblivion.

And look who's blindly following the Suicidal Herd of Swine: the Whining Manger Dog, the Hardshell Tortoise and the Invincible Armadillo.

What a zoo! How nice to be this side of the cages.

How nice, for a change, to have an American Bold Eagle on the wing to look up to.

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These days it's unnecessary to venture to the zoo. Turn on the tube, and there they are - a mangy menagerie of enough political species to clutter several cages. For the convenience of the taxpayers who support them, they are to be found on either side of the aisle in both...
Friday, 08 February 2002 12:00 AM
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