Jokes, comparisons and cartoons of a political nature have been a staple of campaigns and party symbols in America for centuries. Recently, there appears to be a surge in the media suggesting similarities among politicians and clowns. As a circus clown I would like to take this opportunity to set a few things straight.
On his speech to a joint session of Congress on September 8th, 2011, even President Obama used the phrase "political circus." Yes, many parallels exist between the two groups but using derogatory references like "politician" when referring to my fellow clowns is offensive. Let us compare a traditional circus with national politics in order to get some bearings.
Our three branch government functions are similar to the well-organized three ring circus. That much is clear. Also, clowns and politicians are both adept at juggling, whether it be bowling pins, flaming torches, scandals or blocks of voters. There is even a book titled "The Congress of Clowns," a publication on political satire and theater in Russia, by author Joel Schechter. It's no wonder politicians attempt to associate themselves with clowns when Mr. Schechter referes to clowns as "intellectuals of the circus."
In addition, clowns use make-up and colorful wigs while politicians prefer hair plugs and spray-on tans. Both claim to be in it for the children but let's face it, everyone knows that we are all in it for the perks. Politicians have the benefit of tax-payer funded overseas congressional junkets while clowns have virtually unlimited access to a multitude of balloon animals.
Perhaps Congress could take a useful cue from clowns and rather than enacting recently proposed tax increases host instead of nationwide carnival to raise needed funds. It could include a dunking booth where, for a nominal fee, you can attempt to splash your local, state and national bureaucrats. Since losing almost twenty percent of my home value over the past few years it may be worth it for me to fly to Massachusetts for the opportunity to lob a few fastballs at Congressman Barney Frank while I still have the chance. Although to be honest with you I would not aim for the button. Let's see how he likes being in an underwater position.
We could also raise additional funds by charging carnival goers to take short rides around the parking lot in the space shuttles since they are no longer being sent into space. One popular carnival game consists of guessing the number of gumballs contained within a large plastic container. We could put a new twist on that old favorite and truck in a complete copy of the IRS tax code. For a few dollars you can try to guess the correct number of pages contained within. My guess is 79,512.
Republicans could play pin the tail on the donkey using real democrats while democrats could set up a booth selling elephant ears decorated with republican caricatures. Representative Pelosi could even demonstrate her pole-vaulting skills that she touted during the healthcare debate.
In ages past, court jesters were sometimes referred to as a fool, dolt or halfwit. Even this tradition has been infringed upon in the halls of Congress. It has been suggested that two halfwits make a whole wit, hence the prolific presence of so many political committees. But recall those beloved fraction worksheets from seventh grade math you will remember that a halfwit times a halfwit produces a fourth of a wit. Interestingly enough, when you multiply out that denominator times the 535 members of Congress it comes out to the fraction one over fifteen trillion. That total just happens to mirror the current national debt. Coincidence? I do not think so.
These and many other parallels exist interpersonal equivalence among clowns and politicians yet irreconcilable variances remain. Do not be fooled by animated imitations. For instance, when was the last time you saw a real clown wearing a five thousand dollar suit or a politician spending their own money? In these difficult times we could all use some comic relief but that is still no reason to be insulting. Clown on.