America’s Tragicomedy: Send Out the Clowns

By Major General Paul E. Vallely (US Army-Ret.)

Last week, as I was listening to the “State of the Coup,” as Rush dubs it—joined by about 1 in 10 of my fellow Americans, the lowest since Bill Clinton at his lowest—I surveyed the scene inside the House of Representatives chamber.

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What I saw was a circus: Happy smiling Democrats winking at each other, clapping and grinning from ear to ear, over and over, as Barack Obama, Santa Claus-like, announced goodies that, in reality, are impossible to deliver with his slow growth policy prescriptions; while also turning a blind eye to the burning international situation, with just three forgettable lines about Syria, eclipsing the metastasizing Al Qaeda threat in that warring country and how to eviscerate it.

This at a time when America is on the precipice, threatened from home and abroad.

It all brought to mind that Broadway musical at the end of the Vietnam War that my peers and I remember so well—Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music,” featuring “Send in the Clowns” that Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins made so famous, Sinatra’s rendition hitting gold status; Collins’ winning the “Song of the Year” Grammy in 1976, her version hugging the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975 (11 weeks) and 1976 (16 weeks), reaching 36 and 19, respectively. (Video)

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Sondheim’s musical was an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s film Smiles of a Summer Night. “Send in the Clowns” is a ballad from Act II in which the character Desirée reflects on being rejected by her lover, causing both great pain. Later, when he returns to her, the song serves as a coda.

Then, as now, it reflected the country’s mood perfectly.   As Sondheim’s show was brightening Broadway, Jimmy Carter’s policies were precipitating storm clouds—threats of foreign aggressiveness given Carter’s hollowing out of the military, which materialized when Americans were taken hostage in our embassy in Tehran for 444 days; a weakening economy characterized by rising gas prices, long, snaking gas lines, and a rising misery index (unemployment + inflation) climbing to nearly 22 by summer 1980.

Rejection of conservative values hurt, but, as with “A Little Night Music,” Americans got a second chance when Ronald Reagan came to the rescue.

Yet, the cycle of rejection has repeated itself. Currently, our nation is in great peril—suffering disrespect abroad, having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan; as well as unease over the falling dollar and a weak economy in which the employment participation rate has plummeted to levels not seen since Carter.

Given this reality, last Tuesday’s spectacle was hard to stomach.

“Send in the Clowns” was my attempt at humor, comedy being the underside of tragedy. And, of all things, my wife recently found this YouTube rendition of “Send in the Clowns”—with a twist. (Video) Titled “Send Out the Clowns,” it was made in honor of a fellow, David Noble, who died much too young, at age 28 (a soldier, I wonder?).

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It features our fearless leaders in Washington morphing into—you guessed it: clowns.

The message superimposed at the end is entirely fitting. “Clowns defending clowns,” it announces: “Fast and Furious, IRS – NSA – Benghazi, Obamacare.  These are not phony scandals.”ClownsOld

“WAKE UP AMERICA,” it ends, superimposed over the Washington monument, coinciding with the end of the song:

“Send in the clowns, Send in the clowns. Don’t bother they’re here.”

Yes, they are—by the barrel-full.

It’s time to express “no confidence” and signal we are going to take our country back and send the clowns packing in this year’s elections.  No more phony business as usual.  If our leaders won’t lead, then it’s time for real leaders who will. 

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Major General Paul E. Vallely (USA-Ret.) is Chairman of Stand Up America. He is currently taking a leading role in galvanizing the Tea Party, responding to numerous calls he has received from across America in recent weeks, given the seriousness of the threat America faces. Here’s one example from Wild Bill for America, who founded Tea Teams USA:  http://www.westernjournalism.com/new-tea-party/