Mad Tea Parties

     Have you noticed there’s little difference between the Republicans’ tea party and the Mad Hatter’s tea party?
     Scholars will recall that when Alice arrived at the tea party, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse were all crowded together at one end of a big table.
     “‘No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming.”
     “‘There’s plenty of room!’ said Alice indignantly,” and she sat down at the table.
     This drew a remark from the March Hare: “‘It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited.’
     “‘I didn’t know it was your table,’ said Alice: ‘it’s laid for a great many more than three.'”
     I could go on – in fact, I probably should – but that’s sufficient, I think.
     We’ve got a big fancy table, full of goodies.
     We’ve got everyone crammed in at one extreme end of it.
     Despite all the empty seats, and all the goodies, the ones who believe they own the table say there’s no room at it for anyone else.
     And they insult Alice every time they open their mouths.
     What’s the difference between the Mad Hatter’s tea party and the Republican tea party’s search for someone crazy enough to be Speaker of the House?
     Ain’t no difference at all, except the Mad Hatter and March Hare knew they were crazy.
     What makes Alice’s adventures underground and through the looking glass upsetting is not so much the individual incidents themselves, but that every time Alice lands on a new square the rules change.
     That’s not how things work in the real world.
     In the real world it takes a lot of work to change reality, to make it work under new rules. You can’t just decree it.
     Since we’re discussing great literature, let me drag in Constantin Stanislavski’s book, “Building a Character.”
     Here’s why: Stanislavski knew what he was doing.
     He was a great actor and a great director, and he did change the world, for the better. And politics today, above all, is acting.
     In the U.S. Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, it’s really bad acting.
     All of our politicians – and reporters – would do well to read Chapter VI in Stanislavski’s book, “Restraint and Control.” Then they could skip ahead to Chapter X, on “Perspective.”
     Stanislavski said an actor has to have a perspective of the whole play. No decent actor playing Othello would begin to “gnash his teeth in the first act, gloating over the prospect of the murder,” which doesn’t come until Act V. Actors who do that “cannot possibly have a true perspective and are unable to play their role correctly.”
     But that’s all we get from the Republican tea party. Every damn thing that happens, or fails to happen, anywhere in the world, sets them to gnashing their teeth, gloating over the prospect of murder.
     No matter what it is they want, they want it now. Or else. But no one believes them, except people who are as crazy as they are – because they are bad actors. They have no perspective: on the country, on the job they were elected to do, or on their own grandiose, pitiful selves.
     They’re a bunch of spoiled brats. They don’t know even how to act at a tea party. How can they expect anyone to trust them to run a country?

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