Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

At the opening of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell describes Scarlett O’Hara thusly: “…she wasn’t beautiful, but everyone thought she was.” Now, before you start thinking I’m going to bring up the battle axe of the borealis, I’m not, because my argument isn’t really about beauty (or lack thereof).  It’s about the deep and abiding character flaws that develop when people are encouraged by those around them to think they have gifts they simply don’t have, and how such delusional self-confidence leads people like Scarlett to repeatedly make drastic and irreversible mistakes which harm others and ultimately, themselves.  The plot is hardly new; would somebody please alert the (liberal) media?

When you look at today’s Republican party, today coincidentally centered in Scarlett’s old Confederacy, they might as well all be wearing hoop skirts at Twelve Oaks, perhaps even showing their bosom before three o’clock, against Mammy’s sage advice.  As such, a sneering, self-entitled jackass saddled with a lifetime of failures big and small like George W. Bush could simply step onto the national stage and magically become a “moderate”  regular guy you could “have a beer with,” but even more implausibly, a man who would never deficit-spend and would also pursue a “humble” foreign policy.  When Condi Rice made the laughable assertion, repeatedly, that “no one could have predicted _______,” you have to admit she had a point, she just defined “no one” a little differently than most of us would, meaning “no one who matters.”  The media fell for it, after all, along with enough credulous Americans, and just went ahead and put an erratic, destructive ne’er-do-well into an office where he could do quite a bit of damage, which of course he did.  By that time, though, anyone with two brain cells to rub together could have seen this coming.

Remember Newt Gingrich, the Historian and Intellectual?  How about Dick Cheney, the Statesman?  Colin Powell, the Incorruptible?  The New Nixon?  So confident that the media is as shallow and dumb as the Tarleton twins, for all of my adult life Republicans have built their success in getting people to believe they’re beautiful, against all evidence, and then screwing them over later, just like Scarlett.  Perhaps because he’s a fellow Georgian, Newt Gingrich even takes her fiddle-dee-dee a step further and marries someone better.  That always shows ‘em.

The competition for the new belle of the ball seems to be heating up of late: there’s the ravishing Scott Walker of Wisconsin (whose Mammy has unfortunately not suggested a hair piece yet… maybe she’s short); the elegant John Kasich of Ohio; the statuesque Paul LePage of Maine; the, well, striking Rick Scott of Florida; and pleasingly plump Chris Christie, who would no doubt benefit from some aggressive corset work.  As you’d expect, the media thinks they’re all so beautiful that it’s really too hard to decide, even as their regretful supporters have seen them once too often in curlers and cold cream to go there, even drunk.

The good news is that now there are a lot more profiteering Rhett Butlers to go around these days, and they have so much money they can afford a whole passel of Scarletts, so few of these worthies expect to be making any dresses out of the drapes anytime soon.  The bad news is that there’s a new Scarlett in town, out to avenge the burning of Atlanta and such, by the name of Paul Ryan, and with his prominent widow’s peak he even, disturbingly, looks the part.

The Kochs and their ilk  have already factored in a few millions lost here and there with their state-based “investments” that won’t pan out; when you’ve got $40 billion, that’s less than the dry cleaning.  The big goal was to grab the federal government, which is, as Willie Sutton put it, “where the money is,” and Paul Ryan and the Republican majority are the getaway vehicle.  Touted endlessly as “courageous” (even among Democrats), Ryan’s latest “plan” is the expected toxic combination of naked reverse Robin Hood horse shit, which is anything but “courageous” in our Foxified political environment.  Remember, the last time a President attempted to do anything but cut taxes was in 1993, and though that produced a surplus and unprecedented economic boom, to the media it was still the grave mistake they called it at the time because it resulted in Clinton losing Congress.

But in a way they may be right.  It is courageous to say, outright, that you plan to do away with Medicare while lowering taxes on wealthy corporations, just as it is equally courageous to say you are also going to do away with collective bargaining, give back direly needed federal transportation dollars, hand fancy jobs to unqualified cronies (and/or their predictably worthless children), rip art off the walls and call justices bitches (to their faces, to boot, not like Barbara Bush), and tell people to “kiss my butt.”   Few Republicans I can think of have ever been quite so courageous, especially with an election coming up, and I’m delighted to think they think it will work out for them.

What they’re saying is, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  Even Scarlett got that message….  Will the voters?

CH: Kloppenburg/Prosser results tomorrow….  Keep your fingers crossed.


  1. bystander says:

    Wow. Well ‘effin’ said. Got nothing to add but, Amen.

  2. nancy says:

    Your best yet. Am forwarding this to all my friends and neighbors + my dimwitted Congresswoman, who I’ve decided to barrage regularly now. Wonder what happens to that mail that goes in her dead letter file. S’pose it still gets to be part of the “record”?

    • cocktailhag says:

      Oh, I think it does. The best part is when they write back, which they sometimes do, and you can forward the idiocy hither and yon. (I’ve gotten more than a few good blog posts that way…)

  3. nancy says:

    I suspect you might appreciate this . I only read David Seaton when I’m willing to wake up in the middle of the night and lose sleep. But his perspective as an expat is usually unconventional yet on-target. His take on this is similar to yours, just darker.

    Thanks for GWTW clip. It sure was a luscious-looking thing.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Great essay; he’s probably right. Personally, I’m a believer in the slow collapse theory, since it’s already been going on almost my whole life. (I was born the day of the Gulf of Tonkin “attacks,” and we all know how that turned out…)
      I had actually searched for a straight film clip, but all they have on youtube is stills (copyright?); I picked that one because the picture was of the scene I wanted on the title page. But it is a gorgeous movie; I just saw it a few months ago for the first time in many years and was reminded of that. The book is great, too, and by the time you’re done you will be able to speak Mammy-ese fluently enough to let, say, “Gwine I is” trip liltingly off your tongue.

      • nancy says:

        You’re too young then to remember when the only way to see the movie was at the rare “anniversary” screening in the movie theatre–that meant seeing it on the big screen, which, of course, was the way to see such a movie. Really a different time. I don’t remember when the movie execs finally relented and allowed for a television showing, but a corner was turned. (Same thing was true of “The Wizard of Oz”–once a year, for the kiddies–and a big gather-round the TV deal).

        I am a relic.

        • cocktailhag says:

          I remember my mother was horrified that they would stoop to show GWTW on TV, because it was too small. I still liked it, though. Wizard of Oz, too, except those flying monkeys gave me nightmares….

          • nancy says:

            Don’t you think the flying monkeys though have turned out to be terribly useful metaphors? Pretty sure that wasn’t L. Frank Baum’s intention. Heh.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Sadly, they’ve been effective, too. The righties sided with the Wicked Witch and totally changed the ending over the years. No bucket of water is going to get them, at the rate they’re going.

  4. dirigo says:

    Michele Bachmann’s not beautiful and no one thinks she is.

    Sarah? Well, she can turn heads. Perversely. But her political sell date may have come already, so all she has now is her Tina wink.

    But I can imagine Scarlett taking on Sherman’s army in a meta flirt, melting his cannon before they were rolled within range of Atlanta. If only she had an even bigger heart and had gone to a war college or something, to hone her strategic thought. What if … ? Twelve Oaks might have been saved.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Yeah, but the ol’ harridan doesn’t look too bad for 55, long as she doesn’t open her mouth or make a crazy face, which of course never happens.
      I caught myself thinking Sarah was pretty hot at the VP debate, suspecting she was girdled within an inch of her life. Did she have an eskimo Mammy to help wrestle her into it?
      What good would Twelve Oaks be for Scarlett without Ashley? Try as she might, she could never get rid of that damn Melanie.

      • dirigo says:

        And Maine men are not statuesque. Many are tall and lanky (not Le Page of course) in a lumberjack sort of way. But statuesque? Uh-uh. Except maybe Ed Muskie. But, according to legend (made up by the Manchester Union Leader, and aided by Nixon dirty tricksters), Ed boo-hood his way into a footnote in American history during the 1972 presidential campaign, while standing in front of the newspaper’s old downtown headquarters. It was publisher Ed Loeb’s finest hour. Not Churchillian by any means, but maybe statuesque, like the Old Man On The Mountain (Mr. Granite Head). And that was before the Old Man collapsed in a heap a few years ago.

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