Stephen Sondheim wrote the mournful, haunting tune “Send in the Clowns” for the 1973 musical “A Little Night Music.”  As with many of the songs, poems, ballads and stories I’ve selected for comparison and contrast against current events, the messages in the song — indeed, some of the very lyrics — echo a little more of the unreality that has built up in our national perception than we should be comfortable with.

The title alludes to a method of distraction used to get the attention of the audience off a particularly dismal or disastrous occurrence — the antics of the clowns are meant to keep the focus off of the real problem or tragedy.

Kind of reminds me of the general behavior of the Congress — lots of silly antics by self-inflated characters made up to represent real politicians, but used primarily to distract Americans from the disaster of the Executive Branch and the Republican majority leadership.
There are a few verses toward the end that, in light of the Congressional comparison I made above, are actually quite chilling:

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you’d want what I want –
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns.
Quick, send in the clowns.

That passage just screams of the uneasy equilibrium that both Democrats and Republicans shared when they wrangled on items where neither had the obvious upper hand, and each wanted to be seen as compromising and bipartisan.

If I had to place it somewhere in a timeline over the past six years, I’d put it somewhere shortly after 9/11, when Congress was pushing through the idiotic Patriot Act garbage — unread, unchallenged — and authorizing Bush to use <s>sharp objects</s&gt military force.

This next selection would be around the time of Katrina.

What a surprise.
Who could forsee
I’d come to feel about you
What you’d felt about me?
Why only now when i see
That you’d drifted away?
What a surprise.
What a cliche’.

The overuse of the “Nobody could have foreseen” line, the realization that the public was beginning to hold the Administration and Republican leadership in the same contempt that the public felt it was held in, and the actual drifting away of New Orleans and her residents under tons of water from breached levees were nicely hinted at.

Who would have guessed that Stephen Sondheim hated America, and would write such a song simply to surreptitiously undermine Republican leadership 30 years out?  Now that’s dedication.

The last, and final, piece of the song particularly resonates with the situation that our illustrious Republican leadership now finds itself in: things are falling apart, their well-oiled noise machine is squeaking and their “base” is unable to support them in their time of need because of their rather disturbing habits of protecting <s>their own</s&gt predators.

Isn’t it rich?
Isn’t it queer?
Losing my timing this late
In my career?
And where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don’t bother – they’re here.

Check out that last line again: Don’t bother – they’re here.

Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

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