There is a sequence in a W. C. Fields movie (If memory servers, that would be “Never give a sucker an even break”) that shows a con man with a funny name (Fields) at a coffee shop lunch counter chatting up the fellow next to him. The rapscallion makes his move and says to the victim: “It’s been a pleasure talking to you; I think I’ll buy your lunch. When I get up to the cashier, I’ll tell her to charge me for your lunch, so you raise your hand when I point in this direction.” Then when he talks to the young hostess with access to the cash register, he says: “The fellow next to me offered to buy my lunch. It’s that guy.” He points to the gullible fellow, who raises his hand. Fields marches off in triumph leaving the film audience in hysterics.
All this esoteric film history would be relevant if we were trying to land a gig as the intern at the British film review website <a href =http://cinesthesiac.blogspot.com/
>Cinesthesiac</I>, if they ever expand their staff to include that position. However, since this column is going to be posted on sites that relish mordacious political punditry, we had better hasten to add that this vignette from the cinema vaults can serve as a metaphor for a newer and more pertinent swindle being perpetrated on gullible Americans and proceed immediately to the explanation of the symbolism involved.
A loveable rascal in the White House wanted to go down in history as a war President and so he convinces his country to start a quick war that (he assured the citizens) wouldn’t cost much and would be over quickly and successfully. Then, several years later, when his successor from another political party falls into the trap, the slick fellow tells the cashier: “He’s going to pay for my war!” and <I>voila!</I> the chump raises his hand and (eventually) gets a big surprise. Economic chaos ensues (Don’t the Republicans think that economic chaos is an example of knee-slap funny humor?) . . . .
If a W. C. Fields character where to be given a contract for security at a big world famous sports event, the cad would over promise performance, under deliver results, and then take the money and run leaving the host country to fill the security gap. What Conservative doesn’t believe in the old Woody Allen philosophy of “Take the money and run”?
Before America got into WWII, Fields ran a campaign for President. The thought of a fellow who is mostly known for bumbling, unscrupulous business conduct vying for a chance to move into the White House was a hilarious diversion for the American voters who had, in 1940, been coping with economic adversity for a decade.
One of the agents in the World’s Laziest Journalist spy corps recently filed a report saying that over at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory, some of the more radical thinkers (?) on the staff are predicting that the Republicans are going to use a “Lucy van Pelt pulls away the football” type maneuver to take the nomination away from the presumptive (“never assume!”) nominee.
Gullible rubes refuse to consider the possibility that pundits are serious when the use the qualifying phrase “presumptive nominee” when they talk about Mitt Romney. Their naiveté is a crucial ingredient for the political <I>blitzkrieg</I> (allegorically speaking) that will be unleashed before the Republican convention is called to order in Tampa.
The folks at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory, this week, were expressing the old Jimmy Durante line: “Everybody is trying to get into the act.” Where does journalism reporting rumors end and conspiracy theories start? Is there a cusp area? There were rumors online Thursday hinting that a certain front running candidate may have to contend with assertions he was given amnesty for some income tax evasion offenses and if this unfounded rumor turns out to be true, he might be ruled retroactively ineligible to be a participant in the Primary and General Election activities.
Americans have been anesthetized to any shock that might accompany proof that a politician is telling blatant lies. Suppose (AKA “What if . . . ?”) that a party’s front runner has to content with undeniable, irrefutable proof that he has committed a major misdeed (such as income tax evasion?) just days before the convention is scheduled to start? Could a fellow be ruled retroactively ineligible to participate in some Primary elections and stripped of his wins? (Did Mitt ever win the tour de France?)
It seems to some of the members of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Workers union that some amateur scabs were doing some speculating this week that come perilously close to infringing on their trade.
There could be major problems ahead for the Republican Party. If (subjunctive mood) Mitt is a rich kid who knows that where there is enough available money there is always a way to get what he wants and if the Republicans hint that it is time for him to be graceful and step down, perhaps the rich kid will become obstreperous. If Mitt comes unglued by the tax question, he might have a meltdown that would make the Howard Dean scream incident seem very tame in comparison.
What would the Republican Party do if a respected newspaper had a Pentagon Papers moment and published authentic copies of the tax returns in dispute? What if Mitt still wouldn’t step aside?
If that were to happen, then it might be time for a journalist-curmudgeon to say: “The kid’s not a real trooper; send him home.”
If a Mitt candidacy is unacceptable to Republicans how can they possibly expect to sell him to Reagan Democrats?
If Mitt wasn’t really shuttling between working on the Olympics and working at Bain, could that rascally old Mormon have been splitting some of his family values time with an extra wife?
Speaking of double standards, most Liberals don’t understand the Conservative philosophy of boardroom conduct. The executives, because of their “hands on” style of management, earn every last cent of their paycheck when things are rosy and profitable, but when things go sour, it must always be blamed on some underling who kept “the chief” in the dark about potential problems. Being a mid-level management executive these days is like being a human shield protecting the fearless leader from indictments and irate stockholders. When Republican industrial moguls say “You can’t loose,” that exactly what they mean. Unfortunately, that caveat doesn’t apply to managers who don’t sit of the board of directors.
Was it Fields or Laurel and Hardy that featured the shtick about flipping a coin and saying: “Heads, I win; tails, you loose!”? What conservative Christian can’t condone that example of how to bamboozle a sucker?
St. Ronald Reagan often said that the eleventh commandment was: Never speak ill of a fellow Republican. The recent rash of Republican ruminating about the Romney run makes skeptics wonder what’s up in that party. Either Reagan’s sway on the party faithful is waning or the Conservative Christians don’t consider Mitt to be an authentic member of their party. If that’s the case, the chorus of criticism will continue until Mitt is deemed disqualified for the nomination and then he and his supporters will have a WTF mind meld moment and start asking themselves the usual Charlie Brown questions about being fleeced of their campaign money and being rooked out of the nomination they considered rightfully theirs.
There is a bit of old conventional wisdom among film critics that holds that the key to watching any film about swindlers is to keep in mind that the iron clad rule for the genre which is: the con men are always the ones who get fleeced. Thus film critics who see Mitt Romney as a modern W. C. Fields patent medicine salesman expect that he will wind up (like the fellow in a particular Jerry Reed song) getting the shaft instead of the expected gold mine.
If the Mittster is looking for a slogan for his Presidential campaign, perhaps he can swipe the phrase that Texas Guinan used to use when she greeted customers entering her New York speakeasy: “Hello, sucker!”
For a column on swindles that will be posted on July 20, the disk jockey insists that his closing selection of songs starts off with “Springtime for Hitler” (from Mel Brooks’ “The Producers”), the Rolling Stones contractual obligation album [when they were committed to delivering one more album to a certain record company, they delivered a package of über-bawdy material and when the record company executives complained that they couldn’t release the album, the Stones lawyers indicated “That’s your problem.” (It became a top bootleg product for those people who sanction unauthorized products.)] and as a memorial tribute for country music fans, Kitty Wells’ breakthrough Country hit “It wasn’t God who made Honky-tonk angels.” We have to go check and see who the Republicans have available on the bench in the bullpen. Have an “I’ll hold the football for you, Charlie Brown,” type week.
[Quagmire, who may be the littlest panhandler on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, attacked the columnist after being given a “drop in the bucket” offering and bit the writer’s cane so we thought a picture of this ungrateful cur would be an acceptable illustration for a column about swindles. Why a cane? Isn’t a cane essential for projecting the image of a suave <I>boulevardier</I>?]