Why were the Congressmen cheering so much?

Mike Royko

February 03, 1992|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

STARING UP AT THE TV set, Slats Grobnik said: "Did I miss something?"

No, the President has just arrived and has not yet begun to speak.

"Then if he didn't say nothin', how come all those congressmen are standing up and cheering like he said he's gonna put a new highway in their districts?"

I suppose it is an attempt to show unity in these trying times. And to raise the sagging spirit of the nation.

"I think the sagging spirit of the nation would go up if these bozos would all stop clapping and announce that they are resigning and finding honest work. I think they're all clapping so hard because they're scared."

Of what?

"Of what? Because the country is goin' down the tubes and they don't know what to do, and they're hoping he comes up with something, but they know that he won't because he don't know what to do, either. I mean, there they are, the leaders of this country, and they ain't got the foggiest about solving the problems."

That's not entirely true. Many of them have programs to stimulate the economy.

"Yeah, I know. They're gonna give it a jump start, like we got a dead battery. Or give it a shot in the arm, like it's got diabetes. I think it's all a con and they ain't got any ideas because we're in too deep a mess. And you know why they're clapping so long?"

Why?

"They're afraid of what he's gonna say when he starts talking, so they figure if they clap long enough, we'll all go to bed or switch to a basketball game, and we won't wise up that they don't know what to do."

Well, there are economists who say that the best thing Bush and Congress could do is absolutely nothing.

"Then why don't he just say: 'My fellow Americans, at a time like this, with so many people goofed up, the worst thing that could happen is that this Congress and me do anything more, because we're one of the reasons it's goofed up, and all we'll do is take a real mess and turn it into a complete disaster. So I'm asking all the congressmen to help the American people by going home and pulling down the shades and staying out of sight. And that's what I'm gonna do. So God bless America and all the brave boys who fought in Desert Storm, with me as their commander-in-chief. So thank you very much and good night, and remember, if things get too tough you can always go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy and ask the court to protect you from your creditors.'"

He can't say that. This is going to be a State of the Union address. He is supposed to tell us what the state of the union is.

"What for? Everybody knows what the state of the union is. We're up to our ears in hock, we're buying more than we're selling, the Japanese are laughing at us, and Dan Quayle is standing there banging his hands together like he wants Bush to throw him a peanut. So why don't he just give it to us straight?"

Such as?

"He should say: 'My fellow Americans, I am here tonight to try to say stuff that will make you vote for me next November. So I'm going to say something that don't mean much, then all these congressmen are going to jump up and cheer. Then I'll say something else that don't mean much, and they'll jump up and cheer again. What we're hoping is that by putting on this happy act, you won't notice that I'm really not saying anything and that when you go to bed tonight you won't be any better off than when you got up this morning and you'll probably be worse off tomorrow, if you're lucky.'"

He can't say that.

"Why not? People always say that they want politicians to tell them the truth."

Yes, but truth in small doses and phrased in such a way so as not to create panic and alarm, and to raise our hopes for the future.

"I get it. Something like, 'My fellow Americans. These are dark times. But we have faced dark times before. And then the sun came up and it wasn't dark no more. And we will raise our heads, and the sun will shine right in our faces.' Something like that?"

Yes, very good, you could be a speech writer.

"And how about this: 'And when you raise your faces to the sun, the sun will shine on you, and then you will get little dark spots and the doc will tell you that too much sunlight is dangerous and you got to have surgery, but you can't afford the surgery and so you wipe out all your savings to pay for it, and then you lose your job, and your house gets repossessed and when you look for a job they tell you you're too old or overqualified, so you're better off when it's dark.' "

Well, thank goodness you are not giving the State of the Union address.

"Yeah, and thank goodness the bartender just switched to the basketball game, where they know what they're cheering about."

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