No fairy-tale endings in Washington

While it is looking like 2019 will be ringing in breaking news bulletins even faster and more furiously than 2018, with tweets by the source from which all news flows flashing in cyberspace like a strobe light, it is very hard to develop a commentary on current events. Upon the day of this writing, we are in a partial government shutdown. Upon the day of its publication, we may or may not be in a partial government shutdown. So, I am going to give you a more stable “fable” for the new year instead.

When a child demands something that they think they want and becomes fixated on it, and the parents know it is not sensible or beneficial, good parenting requires them to stand their ground and not give in to the petulant demands of the child. If a child grows up without their spoiled demands being regulated, they will likely turn into a self-centered, immature adult. They will take personal offense to any obstacles to their self-interests, viewing any logical or prudent disagreement as punishment and compare their treatment to anothers, as in “Barry’s parents let him do it, you don’t love me.” This is about a boy named Donny, who wants to get his way no matter what.

Donny wants a wall. He wants a big cement wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. He doesn’t care about the cost. He doesn’t care that it is a waste of money. He refuses to admit that it is a silly idea. The Democratic leaders in congress will not give in to his tantrums. He tells everyone that it is because they don’t like him, if it was anyone else, they would be happy to oblige. He wanted his wall for Christmas. He didn’t get his wall. So, he visited troops in Iraq, thinking that if he did something good, he might get his wall. He complained to the soldiers there. He told them that the Democrats are punishing him. Why do soldiers in Iraq want to hear that? He is supposed to be their commander-in-chief. Men and women with maturity and responsibility, dedicated to their country, deserve more respect and leadership. How can they look up to a leader who whines to them? Secretary of Defense Mattis had their respect. He tried to be an adult in the room. He was dismissed by the spoiled child in charge who wouldn’t listen to his advice and impetuously decided on his own to pull troops assigned to help the Kurds fight ISIS in Syria. Donny thought this idea would impress and maybe get him his wall. Instead, it offended the leaders in Iraq and worried leaders in the U.S. Congress and throughout the globe, stirring up more crisis issues. Donny now has to back off on his bright idea. Still no wall.

The wall is Donny’s security blanket. The wall will make his base happy, and they will take care of him. His supporters liked the idea when he campaigned. They cheered “Build the wall!” They funded his campaign. Mexico will pay for the wall, he promised. Mexico has said in no uncertain terms that it will not pay for a wall. Donny will make them pay eventually, some way or other, maybe a trade scheme. His enablers say there is a plan. The first step is letting Donny have his wall. After that, Donny says he has a super special secret plan that will make everyone happy. They tell us to believe Donny. Donny has made many promises in the past, he has had many big ideas. He is a big success in his own mind. He is experienced at convincing others of this. He likes to show off. Mark Burnett, creator of the reality show phenomenom, Survivor, saw in Donny the perpetual promoter, a good focal point to develop a new fabricated reality show around a perceived successful businessman. He was convinced that Donny could play that part well. Jimmy Kimmel said that Mark is responsible for the Trump presidency.

The image portrayed in the Apprentice TV series became reality. The failed real estate projects, the closed casinos, the list of bankrupted enterprises and law suits, the foreign loans to keep afloat, all washed away with the new beginning furnished by Mark Burnett. Soon, the name was a household word — one to admire rather than joke about over a tabloid. The power went straight to Donny’s head. Barry, our last president, in the spirit of good-natured roasting that once upon a time was the correspondent’s dinner, compared his own job as president to the Apprentice boss. Donny did not like that one bit. On that very night Donny vowed to get even. He hatched a plan to show Barry who’s boss.

He organized a circus and took it on the road. He drew crowds with his rousing rallies, he overwhelmed the media coverage. He sold his snake oil and with the help of friends (still to all be legally identified), he became president. Again, he believed that he alone was responsible for this success. His head got even bigger. He began to enact his revenge on the man who dared to poke fun at him. He began to dig up accomplishments of his predecessor and put his specially selected minions to work undoing them. “That will show him” I imagine him saying. The wellbeing and security of U.S. citizens, of the global environment, fall victim to his jealous revenge.

Donny had to have, and got, the presidency. He wasn’t stopped by any mature adults who knew it wasn’t good for him or for anyone else. He was enabled by others who had their own interests in mind. Now he wants, and expects to get, a wall. No matter what. He is holding hostage, like a child holding its breath, that thing that he last had to have, the government of the United States of America, until he gets his way. Federal employees don’t want a wall, they want their paychecks. They are getting shortchanged just like people he hired in his previous businesses. The grownups in Congress had agreed upon a plan to avoid this, all Donny had to do was sign it. They were all leaving town to enjoy their holidays. Unfortunately, Donny has gotten in with some of the wrong crowds. Members of the Fox gang got his ear by spreading the word that he was not being strong enough. Donny couldn’t let himself look weak. And so, no deals. He wants that wall or else, ruining over 800,000 holidays in the process.

Donny still covets what Barry had, he wants to be liked and admired. He wants to be strong and feared like his friends in Russia and North Korea. But Donny’s story is not finished yet. Donny may find that he should be careful of what he wishes for. The end to his tale may be a knight named Sir Robert finally reaching the gates of the tower and saving the kingdom.

A moral that we can take from this story is: If your child throws a tantrum over something you know they shouldn’t have — tell them NO! You never know what they may be when they grow up. Teach them responsibility, a work ethic, and respect and concern for others. Use good judgement yourself when you vote for someone to represent you in government and pick someone who has been brought up with those values.

We all want to live happily ever after, after 2020.

If you liked this story, you may also enjoy: The Emperor’s New Clothes, or the Greek myths of Narcissus or Icarus.

Susan Bigler is a Sheridan resident. Send comments to