Talking about Dallas and Texas politics, the great Molly Ivins said, “The only way you can possibly react is to laugh, cry, or throw up. For me, it’s easiest to laugh.” I would argue that the same reactions are pretty much the only ones available to us when it comes to the bigger picture today.
Too soon to find humor in the death of Jeffrey Epstein? Too bad. Normally, I think someone should be buried before anyone starts in on them. He may still be above ground, but I’m working on deadline. Besides, I’m not going to joke about his death, just the reaction to it.
When social media got a hold of the news of his apparent suicide, spontaneous combustion on both sides of the political spectrum started creating conspiracy theories. It reminded me of my childhood when all the kids in Texas were cutting their collective teeth on every lamebrain explanation for the JFK assassination that the adults could manufacture.
Of course, we kids are the adults now, so it’s only natural that we would be drawn to the idea, regardless of how crazy or unfounded, that our favorite bogeyman—I mean bogeyperson—was behind Epstein’s death. After The Godfather, two sequels, and half the episodes of the Law and Order and CSI franchises, we all know how easy it is to off the guy in custody and make it look like suicide before he gets a chance to spill the beans.
Epstein was dangerous to more than mob bosses. He had been palling around with the current president, a past president, one of the Queen’s sons, a former governor, a Senate Majority Leader and various others. But whether it’s some of the left throwing shady at Trump, or the ones on the right giving side eye to the Clintons, the common ground is that Epstein was the predator he was accused of being. Thank you, Mr. Epstein, for bringing the country together.
In that spirit of unity, I began to reflect on the general trajectory that political discourse has taken in this country from The Federalist Papers to the current playground taunts of “I’m rubber, you’re glue.” That made me kind of sad, until I realized that the whole “what you say bounces off me and sticks to you” bit is a child’s way of expressing psychological projection. Or as they say in East Texas, the guilty dog barks the loudest. So who’s barking now?
Then I started thinking about what fun it would be if, in this next round of presidential debates, an attacked candidate would just blurt out, “Takes one to know one.” This one is so good politically as it is a non-denial denial. The candidates could then just go down the list, starting with “Look who’s talking” through “I know you are but what am I” and ending with “that’s the pot calling the kettle black.”
Of course, Democrats will need to change that last one for obvious reasons. I would suggest throwing a gay spin on it, so it comes out, “that’s the pot calling the kettle chartreuse.” I would love to see Mayor Pete try to deliver that line, but I just don’t think he has it in him. (Insert smirk.) Cory Booker is the only one who could do that one justice. (Insert another smirk.) Molly also said, “There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief.” So I’ll just paraphrase Tommy Lee Jones from No Country for Old Men to say that humor’ll just have to do until the truth gets here.