I was talking with an old friend the other day about how difficult it has become to follow the news out of Washington in a newspaper, even a great one like the New York Times, because things happen so incrementally a day old news product just can’t reflect it. All the stories would have to say, “And then this happened, and this and this and this…” and so on. It can’t work. Reality has stretched itself beyond the medium’s ability to reflect. Back in the day when we both worked for UPI, you could simply write a new lede and stick it on top of the old story. But that served no purpose other than to keep news editors entertained and up to date so they would use a UPI story instead of one from Associated Press. I don’t know whose interest that served. Probably just ours. It wasn’t about informing the public in a direct way. It struck me in the middle of the night that reality has stretched itself beyond the ability of news to reflect what is going on. What this situation needs is Kabuki News, which I am certain someone has already invented but that was probably a minute ago so now, it’s my turn!
Kabuki news would be a great place for someone like Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, to thrive. He would have an elaborate costume, of course, and some kind of sword or axe. Anytime a suggestion floated in from the White House, he would announce himself with a loud groan, then leap on stage and chop it to bits. Then he would pose, looking at the ceiling the theater, just to underline the point. You would get the message quite clearly without having to hear it a dozen times an hour. Nothing was getting past Mitch! No matter the topic, no matter the bill. If it came from a Democrat, he would just be against it. It is the perfect theater representation of exactly what we have, Republicans who don’t plan to do anything about anything except for limiting access to the polls. That, of course, is picking up the metaphorical soap for Donald Trump in the damp shower of legislation. (Another great Kabuki scene!)
The banishment of Liz Cheney would be great Kabuki, too, because everyone knows what the end was going to be and beyond that, people were just playing roles. She was the Trump critic who pledged he would never get near the White House again (I thought voters did that!) and she was tossed out on a voice vote, one of those cowardly things members of legislative bodies use when they don’t want to be blamed later. So now we get Rep. Elise Stefanik of somewhere in New York State as her replacement as the number three Republican, while Liz departs swearing she won’t stop tossing buffalo chips at Donald Trump. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader for now, gets to stand on the sidelines and watch, scheming to find a way to become speaker when the Republicans “take over” the house in 2022.
The posing has been worthy of the best of Kabuki, I would argue. Everyone stayed in their roles, McCarthy as the blind believer (actually, he admitted after a visit with President Biden that Biden had won the election) He will change that tune as required, I am certain.
So the actors go on, as does the theater. It all makes a lot more sense if you recognize that it’s just pretend. What can you say about a caucus that has all but concluded the Jan. 6 rioters where nothing more than heated up tourists who got a little out of control. A lot them will be playing their roles in federal prison, I suspect. That will be a good theater to watch, too!