Newt Gingrich and the Long View to Hell
Finding out that New Gingrich is doing well in Iowa saddens me because I know Iowans as noodle people. I do not know them as people of the tomato-sauced noodle, but rather people of the white-sauced noodle casserole, egg noodles maybe, wide noodles with chicken or tuna.
I rely on noodle people and am one myself. I think of us as home people, good at fishing, people who are not so superficial as to care whether the spouse puts on an extra 20.
This is not to say that Iowa is so hopelessly rural that all they do is eat noodle dishes and fish, pleasant as that might be. Iowa is as big city nowadays as, well, as any big city. It's got cornfields and crack houses, Methodists and meth heads, and everything else that makes life in America boring and scary at the same time.
But I thought Iowa had more noodles than to turn to Gingrich, a man who can be called a historian, even though that does some disservice to those professional historians who are even now searching the tax rolls of 15th century France, looking for patterns in land acquisition among the middle peasantry.
But Gingrich is more of a historian than most candidates — more, for instance, than Barack Obama, who resembles nothing so much as the guy who takes your "information" when you slink into the free clinic.
Gingrich writes some things and says some things which, if they are not history, certainly lean on history.
He sees, we think, the glory of Pickett's charge streaming up the heights, feels the thrumming blood in the veins of crusaders and knows that we are only here a little while, leaving behind us only our accumulated glory.
But the historian had better have a bit of the poet in him, or he will be a cruel man. The Pharaohs built the pyramids because they took the long view, and they used their slaves to death because the long view sees one woman's slavery, one man's hopeless death as moments in the long view. What is important is the pyramid, the after world, the glory of the pharaoh. What died beneath the lash would have died anyway, on some other dirty bed of straw.
Tempering the long view with the short view is why you (or, at least, I) will give a quarter to a bum on the street. It maybe does the bum no good, but the quarter is what he wants at the moment and it's what you have at the moment. The long view is what makes you walk past the bum without putting a hand in the pocket of your officeworker khakis. He will die soon with or without your two bits.
The historian, if he has no poet in him, can hear the brave yell of "Charge!" and not see the wounded young boys puking blood and water.
Us noodle-dishers see the decline of American unionism as 29 years of $9-an-hour drudgery for some tie-clipped fool of a "manager" who makes $14 an hour and so can tell us we are "lucky to have a job." We experience the deathless struggle of peoples in the Middle East through Uncle Robbie, who came home from Sadr City unable to concentrate on much of anything but fully skilled at shrieking in the night.
The long view. The big picture. The migration of peoples. The brave snap of flags in the wind. Ideas and ideals, and brave last stands against overwhelming odds.
The loss of your job. Your wife crying at the kitchen table. No more pension. And skipping dental appointments because you need a crown and your insurance only pays half, and then a $120 extraction and a gap on the upper right side of your smile. Cheaper that way. Thank God you like noodle dishes. They're easy to chew.
Big and small, but all the same history.
History is buckling on your sword. The Empire is in peril! History is a pulled tooth. Who can spend four car payments paying for one half of a crown?
Newt always speaks as though he's wearing a robe. What good amateur historian does not want to wear a robe? A robe and a sword and perhaps a diadem, which is a much more exclusive word than "crown." Beauty queens from noodle states wear crowns. A hero wears a diadem, and it encircles his "brow" and never his "head." A head can support a Kansas City Chiefs cap, but only a brow can uphold a diadem.
I'm not so young that I've only heard, read or seen Newt this go 'round. I was eating noodles when he had his first run, when his foolishly heroic utterances began the slow but still-continuing legitimization of poverty as America's one, true heritage. Poverty will make you noble, and war will make you a hero, and the pain of a pulled tooth shows you just how little you need big government and big paychecks and employer-paid insurance.
You're better than that. You're like your great-great-grandfather, dead at 35 from tuberculosis, or your grandmother, who never learned to read very well because they were hiring 9-year-olds down at the mill. Now, they were Americans! Miserable but godly, hungry but proud, happy to have a job, lucky to do any kind of dangerous, unhealthy crap work for less money than they needed to eat. They joyfully gave the corpses of their stillborn babies to the grand sweep of history.
Yeah. Newt loves the rich pageant of history.
If you vote for him, you're gonna find a lot less tuna in the tuna noodle casserole.
And I'm pretty sure you're gonna build some pyramids.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com
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