Start Spreadin’ the…

You asked for it.  (Photo by Getty Images)

You asked for it.
(Photo by Getty Images)

WHAT, spreading the NEWS? (I hear you, Mr. Sinatra.) It IS big news this morning.

…rumours? Everybody has his theory, everyone has her opinion. They’re like anuses, as the saying is.

…wings? A new freedom for the ordinary people of America? The victory of the Little Guy against the Political Elites? (How a millionaire’s son convinced millions that he is One of Them is breathtaking stuff, people.)

um, other sorts of wings? Air Canada B&B? Should I be advertising the small extra bedroom in my basement at inflated prices? Are the promised (or threatened?) refugees from this American election already lining up to emigrate to the Civilized North?

…fear and alarm? Ladies and gentlemen: President Trump! And listen: never doubt the ability of frightened people to do things against their own best interests.

…spreadin’ the Jello™? I remember a time when Bill Cosby was the Biggest Joker and not the Supreme Punchline, and this morning I recall his “Chickenheart” bit. It was a long, woolly tale of his childhood, in which his solution to the delicious but overwhelming terror he felt at listening to scary tales on the radio was, yes, to smear Jello on the floor so that when the evil Chickenheart That Ate Philadelphia got to Cos’s place, he’d slip and fall down. Start smearin’ the goos… (If you still don’t get this reference, repeat that line to the tune of Paul Anka’s (Frank Sinatra’s) “New York, New York”, where Hillary Clinton is even now binge-eating Ben & Jerry’s in her fuzzy Barbie pyjamas.)


Yeah, I’m shuddering, shaking my head in disbelief, pulling out my copy of Charles Pierce’s Idiot America (of which, here is “premise no. 3”: “Anything can be true if someone says it loud enough”). Pierce’s book wasn’t intended to say that all Americans are dumb, though my scary radio show in Ottawa this morning was filled with Canadians incredulizing ả la “How could they elect somebody like that? How could they be so stoopid?” And I go back to 1960s Cosby, when he links the Chickenheart story to another long childhood reminiscence of what happens to an innocent wino who gets run over by a wildly spooked Fat Albert. In the hospital emergency room of Cosby’s ridiculously funny (and rather sweet) story, his Jello-stained father commiserates with the steam-rolled wino, agreeing that terrified people are pretty hard to deal with…

So I’m whistling in the dark. I’m writing headlines, some of which amuse me.

The United States Has Been Trumped!

Guess Who’s Coming to (the White House) Dinner?

America Trumps Its Own Ace

Heeeeeeeeeeere’s Donny!

Concussion: Hillary Smacks the Glass Ceiling, Didn’t See It Coming

White Voters Matter, and So Do Aging Men, Trump Victory Shows

Canadians Congratulate Themselves on U.S. Election Results

How Do You Like Me NOW?

It’s Twilight (Zone) in America

CHANGE! It’s Not Just About Soiled Diapers Any More

First We Elect a N—-r? And Then Some Stuck-Up B—h is Running? Well, F— That S—!  

 I’m not sure there’s a publication, other than Internet comment sections, that would print that last bitter pill, or any of my other silliness, either. Pardon my ugliness, but if you can’t imagine folks that think just like that last foul rant, then I salute your good fortune: you’re living in a privileged and well-insulated place. Misogyny, racism, fear-mongering, vicious innuendo and generalized suspicion all had their sordid roles to play in this terribly expensive and seemingly endless soap opera. But now it’s over, unless it really isn’t.

And it isn’t.

A Clinton election wouldn’t have been so bewildering and ominous. Democracy producing an American woman as “leader of the free world” would have been confirming, in a way. Americans could have congratulated themselves for their progressiveness, their city on a hill enlightenment, just as they did – and we Canucks, most of us, joined in with unreflective wonder – when a Black man became President of a country nearly sundered by its collective approach to its legacy of slavery and racial hegemony. (And may be again.) And she was certainly a far more experienced, aware and knowledgeable candidate to lead this undeniably important nation. We shouldn’t be imagining, though, that the ills most afflicting us, our communities and the small blue planet we fly about on would have been solved by one American exercise in hysterical pseudo-democracy.

Trump is a scary dude, but Obama was terrifying/enraging to a large constituency in 2008, too. But listen: on a level far more smart and sobering than Cosby Fun From the ‘60s, I remember an Adam Gopnik essay from late 2008 or early 2009. (I think it was Gopnik, but Google isn’t helping me with the search info I gave it, so maybe I’m wrong.) In the afterglow of the Obama election, he (or somebody!) wrote a brilliant bit of cold-shower warning: listen, folks, he said, just because Obama is intelligent, humane and socially conscious as hell, it doesn’t mean he can really change anything. The deck is stacked. Government is complicated and slow. He’s only the President. This doesn’t change much, really. It wasn’t what most folks wanted to hear back then, at least those with Democratic Party leanings, but it was true then and it’ll be true now.

The President Trump Moment, don’t get me wrong, is a watershed, and has more potential for division and rancour and regress. If Gopnik is still right, though, President Trump can’t help but fail to keep his promises – the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly, even beyond the fabled “checks and balances” of the American system – and so, before long, he’ll be Just Another Politician to the less-convinced among those who voted for him. Obama was no doubt more aware of how limited his powers actually would be, but Donald Trump will find, like his predecessor did, that he is not king, that he cannot do what he claimed to want (even if much of that was cynical posturing for the sake of his base; the phrase “crazy as a fox” hasn’t been used enough to describe him, say I). So maybe that’s consolation, if you’re in need of some this morning. Trump may be in over his head — even truly qualified people inevitably are for a job like that — but he’ll have lots of highly trained help and plenty of obstacles, obvious and obscure, in executing whatever plan he might have forgotten to tell us about, or even the trumped-up “policies” that he did beat the drum for.

It’s only partisan politics, I intone to myself in conclusion. It’s a defective system whose defects today are just more obvious, not more profound. And we know what we know:

The way of the world is love. (In the day-to-day of living in a material world, we habitually fall in love with the wrong things, but life reminds us what is essential. Or it tries really hard, and always has the last word.)

World peace and cooperation are coming, because the alternatives are so damned costly.

Women and men are equal.

Education is at the heart.

All forms of prejudice are outdated, useless at best, toxic at worst. Good-bye to them.

The earth is one country, and we are all its citizens. Humanity rules.

The way of the world is love.  

Comments (4)

  1. Patti Jenkins

    Thanks Jay! always insightful & helpful.

  2. Levi Vallieres

    It is all a dismal picture. Late last night, as the results were coming in from the last states, a long-time friend called me full of sadness, full of anxiety about conflict, about war. Why not leave the country? But despair is no answer. Americans must struggle honourably and fiercely in the name of their ideals—-that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do.
    And, who knows? What if this presidency develops into an amazing time of prosperity? We got fooled with the polls, I so wish we’re fooled gracefully with this new clown’s mandate…

    • Ishwar Bhatia

      While democracy is not the best form of government, it is still by far the next-to-best. If people have spoken, the parties should understand what went wrong. Complacency is not good. But people will have to improve themselves rather than expecting governments to do it for them. The art of living through mutual respect, developing a professional conduct, and developing compassion and love for each other will remove insecurities.

  3. B How

    great tagline on the photo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *