"Satire doesn’t stand a chance against reality anymore," a comedian lamented way back in the 1950’s. And reality has continued to steal satire’s thunder ever since. The front page these days looks more and more like some hybrid between the soap operas and the comic strips. And the political arena still resembles a circus.
Occasionally, politicians are funny on purpose. President-elect John F. Kennedy, for example, deflated criticism of his nepotism in appointing his brother to a cabinet post by saying: "I don’t see why Bobby shouldn’t get a little experience as attorney general before he goes out to practice law." Ronald Reagan did the same with the "age issue" by quoting something Thomas Jefferson said, then adding: "And I remember when he told me that." In his first run for President in 1992, Pat Buchanan recalled President George H.W. Bush’s pledge to create 30 million new jobs and how we didn’t know that Bush meant new jobs in Shanghai, Yokohama and other places far from the American work force.
But more often politicians are unintentionally funny, as when someone in our State or Defense Department warns other countries against "meddling" in Iraq. (I guess when you’re there with tanks, planes, guns and 130,000 troops, it’s not meddling.) The other day, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cautioned Russian President Vladimir Putin that it is not helpful to threaten nations — though, of course, there it still "nothing" that is "off the table" on what we might to do to Iran. If you don’t believe Secretary Rice, just ask Vice "Predator" Cheney.
But, hey, this is all but officially a "neo-conservative" administration, so maybe we need a neo-decalogue, or the Ten Neo-Commandments, as they have come down in reverse order (Letterman style) from Mount Bushmore.
10. Thou shalt not meddle in the affairs of other nations.
9. Thou shalt not threaten other nations.
8. Thou shalt not trample thy neighbor’s land.
7. Thou shalt not bomb thy neighbor’s homes.
6. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s oil
5. Thou shalt not "destabilize" thy neighbor’s government.
4. Thou shalt not impede thy neighbor’s commerce.
3. Thou shalt not abuse thy prisoners.
2. Thou shalt not bear false witness against other nations.
1. Thou shalt not do as we do.
These Ten Neo-Commandments are well suited to accommodate the neo-conservative quest for a "new world order." And the neat thing is that these commandments will probably pass "constitutional muster" for posting in public buildings, yea, even in U.S. courthouses and schoolrooms. The old commandments were thrown out for violating "the separation of church and state." This neo-Decalogue bears no such burden.
You can’t separate the state from any church more than these neo-commandments do.
Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.