The other day, after an overload of watching CNN, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report (Elijah Wood was the guest), I went to sleep and had a crazy lucid dream.
I dreamt about a place very much like our own, and people very much like ourselves, except it wasn’t, and they weren’t…
* * *
Once upon a place, there was a time called the USA, better known as the United Shire of America, in which life was bucolic and simple, with green meadows, rich crops in the fields, a bustling agrarian economy, and cute hobbit-holes and wooden cottages filled with flowers, flat screen TVs, and sweet, ordinary almost-people-folk called the Hobbits.
Now, these Hobbits had hairy feet, but were well depilated and devoid of all other normal body hair through use of socially accepted beauty products. They were about two-thirds the size of your average Joe the Plumber, but with hearts big enough to fit an Oliphaunt and bellies round enough to eat one (and get a glycemic imbalance in the process, for indeed many Hobbits suffered from such). And they sported smart phones and jolly innocent outlooks on life. Really, who could blame them, with everything being so simple and abundant and drenched in high fructose corn syrup?
Unfortunately, the U Shire A was surrounded by a great big world populated with much bigger, meaner, more cynical creatures (some of which liked to put explosives in their underpants and board airplanes), and a great evil was brewing in a land of Mordor on a street called the Great Wall of China Street.
To make a very long story short, a tiny 1% handful of very mean and greedy evil types decided to rob the world of 99% of its resources. For that reason, several secret Rings of Lobbying Power were forged in the depths of Mount Debt, in the fires of Capitalism, by some unknown asshole or two—or three, or maybe even several dozen—who knows? Their collective name is SAURON, a.k.a. Secret Assholes Unknown to the Rest of Ordinary Nobodies.
And so, after scattering the Rings all over the place, being defeated a couple dozen times in ancient electoral battles, but then resurging, SAURON grew in power by assigning false value to ridiculous junk and trading intangible bullshit on the world financial markets—until real objects of value like wooden cottages were gradually replaced by nonsensical pieces of paper, and the majority of the population believed that their homes and jobs were secure when in fact they were Second Breakfast.
But there was the One Ring, the mysterious ring of absolute Value and absolute Evil, and its name was Misplaced Trust. This Ring, the only one that SAURON actually needed to hold on to world power, was somehow lost (and SAURON got its S&P 500 index finger chopped off, and was sent in a disembodied vapor state to hang out and maybe share a bunk bed with vapor Voldemort until they both found a way back here, by means of recession, quantum physics, giant snakes, and giant eyeballs).
One way or another, the Ring was found by a series of ordinary innocent Hobbits, the last one of which knew nothing better to do with it than to randomly make himself invisible and inconsequential, as a political party trick. His name was Joe Baggins Lieberman, and he often shared the ring with Merry John Kerry, and Al Pippin Gore. Eventually they all got tired of playing invisibility games and the One Ring got shelved in the Shire.
By now, Mordor junk flooded the financial markets and real goods became thin and scarce, while the housing bubble burst and everyone realized their cute wooden cottages and hobbit-holes were not only underground but underwater—deeper than flooded Isengard undergoing undeniable Climate Change. In short, the banking and real estate crash came down screeching like a Nazgul at a party caucus.
Dubya Denethor Bush sat guarding the true Throne of Gondor, blissfully ignoring the fact that Saruman Cheney was in league with SAURON, and armies of ORCs, also known as Old Rich Cronies, were amassing to storm the last strongholds of decency, including our very own U Shire A. But blessedly, DDB’s term days were numbered.
A powerful electoral college good wizard known as Gandalf the Grey made sure that after Dubya Denethor’s term ended, the spirit of Hope and Change came to predominate, in the emergence of a Ranger known as Strider Obama, who was elected in a landslide. But for some reason this valiant Ranger chose not to exercise his full Ranger potential and instead attempted fair play and wimpy bi-partisanship, so that Hope and Change were often left sitting in a travel knapsack next to lembas bread.
And so Strider Obama stayed relatively quiet and kept to the Oval Office shadows, trying to work behind the scenes to provide healthcare reform, healthy nutrition, and other reasonable measures that were quickly thinned down and defeated by the combined inertia of the dark. Some say he was probably biding his limited term time while the lumbering Gondor Congress attempted to make laws for Man, Elf, Dwarf, and ORC alike, rapidly going nowhere.
Meanwhile, Dark Bill Riders were sent to ride all over MiddleAmericaEarth, to look for the One Ring and prevent FRODO, also known as Federal Regulatory Oversized Deficit Officers from making use of it, and even worse, uncovering all kinds of nasty things about it that might make the One Ring lose its hypnotic power to stupefy otherwise intelligent people.
At some point, fast-forward to the Dawn of the Age of Pathetic Men.
The Fellowship of the Three-Ring Circus
Now, the Throne of Gondor seemed like a very nice place to be, so everyone decided they could do a better job of it in the face of a seemingly missing King who was apparently Ranging elsewhere. And so the loyal ORC opposition decided to have a go at it.
At the same time someone had to accompany FRODO and his devoted non-Hispanic legally-hired gardener SAM, on the great quest to restore the economy by resurrecting trust—which of course meant dunking the One Ring in the fires of Mount Debt.
Meanwhile, lesser candidates for the many Congressional thrones popped out of the Forest-of-Fangorn woodwork, even as Treebeard Senate took too long to react. And before they knew it, things were very precarious indeed for the 99% of the population who have been screwed over by SAURON and now faced the Lobbying Power of his other Rings.
Then, Greater Candidates were announced for the Throne of Gondor itself, and they formed a loose Fellowship along The Republic of Tea Party lines.
Mitt Gimli Romney, the Mormon Dwarf, was solid and impeccable on paper, wielding the heavy middle-of-the-road conservative status quo axe of business acumen. But no matter how solid he was—and trust me, he really was a rock formation from Zion National Park—he never seemed to be as sexy-popular as Rick Legolas Perry, the ruggedly-handsome-but-weirdly-disturbing, pause-inducing, incarcerated inmate-executing, verbal-arrow-mis-flinging Elven prince from Mirkwood, a place the size of Texas. Part of the problem for Gimli was, you could toss this Dwarf from position to position on every issue. But then, Legolas Perry opened his mouth, and began to speak gibber-Elvish, and suddenly Gimli was back in the game and up in the approval ratings, swinging the axe, instead of being swung… for the time being.
Herman Boromir Cain also overshadowed Mitt Gimli frequently, but then was caught with his hands groping the One Ring—allegedly—not to mention the many thighs and possibly other portions of female Hobbit, Human, Elf, and Dwarf anatomy. No one knows for sure if he ever groped an ORC or an Uruk-hai at some point, but the story goes that an anonymous lady Uruk-hai retaliated with volleys of public opinion and negative publicity, hired attorney Gloria Allred, and down went Boromir in the polls, all the while blowing 999 on the noble Horn of Gondor and looking around for Libya.
Next, Michelle Shelob Bachman emerged out of the No-Vaccine-for-Innocents Lair, carrying a steaming cup from a Tea Party filled with all kinds of fundamentally firm but sticky opinion webwork (and somewhere in the back of the Lair, in the Giant Web, a gender-conflicted, dogma-tangled, partially-consumed spouse). But before she could use her straw poll win to her advantage, out came an issue of Time Magazine showing her great unblinking arachnid stare on the cover, and down came the spider, even though she was undeniably hot.
The time had come for Tom Newt Bombadil to emerge from the Candidate woods with a bloated torch song. But really, what was Bombadil Gingrich doing in this story anyway? Out of time and place and political narrative, but undoubtedly with a lot of nebulous Twitter followers, he may be a plot spot contender now, but how long will his chapter last? How long will it be until we’ll strongly desire to move on to a more interesting part of the epic? Maybe someone can toss Gimli over an electrified border fence, please?
There were a number of other Candidates for Gondor:
Rick random Elf Santorum Whose Name Must Not Be Googled but who knew his family values.
Jon random Hobbit Huntsman, who loved the (New Hamp) Shire and probably was never going to venture too far outside it.
Ron random Ent Paul from Treebeard’s Council who was really a nice genuine fellow but had been speaking the same exact Libertarian sentence for decades.
But really, although these were fine upstanding Candidates, they could all be wearing red shirts for the amount of stage time and relevance they were going to be getting in this epic Starless Trek for election.
Before we forget, Obama Strider was still there, still Ranging—okay sort off, we assume, allegedly—and of course he too was accompanying FRODO and SAM on their difficult journey.
And there was one more Candidate, at least for the time being—allegedly—a creature most strange and elusive like wild Alaskan salmon, by the name of Gollum Palin. This creature lurked behind rocks and trees and campaign tour buses, wielded a shotgun, dominated moose, and hungered for her very Precious Presidency, or possibly for her Precious One Ring, but somehow no one was quite sure which, since she never actually made a formal move to grab it, but meanwhile sold busloads of books.
The Fellowship was thus formed, and the quest for Gondor 2012 began.
The Two Towers of Partisanship
There were two mighty Towers in MiddleAmericaEarth, standing tall and unshakable, on two opposite sides of the socio-political and ideological spectrum. They were Minas Morgul, the Tower of Black Sorcery, and Orthanc, the black tower of Isengard.
One was Democratic, the other Republican. No one knows which was which, because they were both painted black. And because it was generally poorly lit and kind of dark where they stood.
All we need to know is, they both refused to compromise or come to any middle ground. Really, no way could they be “Bi”-Partisan, because what comes next, Same-Sex Marriage?
For the moment, feel free to root for either one. However, be aware that each Tower to some extent contained ORCs, though one Tower had quite a bit more of them per capita than the other, and was generally more stubborn and set in its ways.
Since this is an epic, there were epic battles between the proponents of the two Towers. While FRODO and SAM traveled to Mordor—slowly, through the difficult and crumbling economic terrain, with bumbling companions and tumbling unemployment numbers, temporarily losing Gandalf to the dark evil despair of Double-Dip Downturn Balrog, and nearly falling before the onslaught of ORCs and Trolls in the Mines of Mid-Term Election Moria—all kinds of nasty things were brewing at Helm’s European Deep.
The Euro was besieged, and since Greeks and Italians had allegedly “spending”-partied instead of reinforcing the Budget fortress, the Spanish, French and German denizens had to bail them out before the forces of Mordor economy overwhelmed the entire common framework. Endless deadlines and 300 Spartan Elves expired in the process.
At the great battle of Helm’s Deep Deficit, the day was won, and Gandalf returned all White, but at what cost—noble Men and Elves and Credit Lending and (Steve) Jobs died, and the U Shire A credit rating was downgraded to Cage-Free Jumbo AA+.
Meanwhile, in the beautiful State Department forest Lothlorien, the mighty Hilary Galadriel Clinton went about her own important international business. Yes, the same Galadriel who had once thought to sit on the Throne of Gondor, and would have done a fair job of it too, but Hope and Change and Ranging turned out a bit more popular that a powerful smart woman.
However, Galadriel Clinton was in fact so Smart and Powerful that she did not let herself lust for the Throne or the One Ring and did not mind being sent to the West (and Middle East) and being honorably Diminished—all for the greater good of MiddleEarthAmerica, Gondor, and the U Shire A. This same Galadriel bestowed gifts of wisdom and inspiration and foreign policy analysis to FRODO and SAM, and remained working quietly and diligently behind the scenes, deep in the embassy of this epic story.
While our two Hobbit heroes meandered through ORC-infested lands on their way to Mordor—with the Two Towers of No-Way-Jose-Am-I-Bi-Partisanship stubbornly standing in place and breeding ORCS, Rohan and Gondor bickering over policy, Merry Kerry kidnapped by Super Committee and Pippin Gore by rapid political Climate Change—it’s kind of, sort of, well okay, necessary to turn our tale to a certain Ranger previously known as Strider Obama.
The Return of the Incumbent King
Now, Strider Obama was definitely more than he seemed—or maybe less than he once seemed. His true name was Aragorn, and through Isildur general election, he was the rightful Heir to the Throne of Gondor, with a genuine long-form pedigree.
Yes, he had inherited a bloody Mordor mess, and yes, SAURON was nearly invincible, and yes, everything he attempted got shot down by flying ORC doo-doo… but maybe “just Ranging” was not the most effective use of his presidential position and his time.
Indeed, all throughout this epic economic slide, it seemed that Aragorn Obama had been oddly reticent to take on his full mantle of leadership responsibilities, and pretty much excelled mostly at taking out remote enemy targets in distant places. Time for Aragorn Obama to put down the drone and make more of a difference at home?
The great human city of Minas-Washington-Tirith was at last under direct siege of the Armies of SAURON. It was also thoroughly Occupied on all its Streets by harmless, needlessly-pepper-sprayed populace, and was direly short on porta-potties. It basically needed a boatload of help from all sides, including the House of Rohan Representatives. And yes, let it be reiterated, it really needed porta-potties.
Fortunately, Rohan answered. The Bill Riders of Rohan rode swiftly to battle on behalf of Gondor, all the while attempting to make law and sausage, and joined the great Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Among them rode the warrior maid Nancy Eowyn Pelosi, shieldmaiden, but disguised as a rapidly blinking congressman.
She bravely entered the battle and at some point dealt John Witch-king Boehner of Angmar, Lord of the Nazgul and Speaker of the House a deadly blow until, instead of Speaking, he cried like a little girl (and then cried like a baby, and then, when he was done, he cried some more like a third trimester fetus). In his stead, Merry Kerry was overwhelmed with sudden powerful rhetoric, and then Spoke very loudly for a very, very, very long time (even in Ent reckoning), which finished the Witch-king off completely. He, who would not fall “by the hand of man,” fell instead by the hand of Pelosi and mouth of Kerry.
But this was not the end to the battle. There were still giant Oliphaunts stomping on “entitlements.” And there were alleged “job creator” Uruk-hai all insisting on lowering taxes for the ORCs, and instead cutting spending on things such as EPA sunshine, NEA fresh air, and the Education of little Hobbits (replacing it with pizza and ketchup).
But at last, Aragorn Obama showed up, having gone through the Paths of the Dead and carrying with him Anduril, the new sword of Veto and Legislation, re-forged from the shards of Narsil by the wisdom of Bill Elrond Clinton, and accompanied by a whole army of the oath-breaking dead including the ghost of King Nixon. The Corsairs of Umbar from the North and all their ships were no match for shades of Watergate and Monica Lewinsky, combined. And to inspire them all further, the noble ghosts of Lincoln, Reagan, and JFK made shining nostalgia appearances, while Lady Gaga launched a Youtube video and Amanda Hocking sold a 100,000,000th ebook.
While the epic battle raged, FRODO and SAM were now in Mordor, Occupying it in their own little way, one tiny step and one tiny percent at a time, getting closer and closer to Mount Debt. They had managed to avoid so much along the way, including Shelob Bachmann, but there was just no way to anticipate the persistent sneakiness of Gollum Palin who once again continued to pop up in dark rocky places, and whose decidedly non-campaigning tour bus followed the Ring-bearer and his faithful, entirely legal—allegedly not gay—non-Hispanic landscaping companion as they climbed the mountain of Debt toward their final fiery destination.
They passed Japanese nuclear reactors, deep-sea oil-rig spills, Corporations who were People, Arab Spring, Hurricane Irene, the Penn State Coaching Department, and were now climbing toward the entrance into Mount Debt near the G20 Summit.
FRODO was struggling, having entirely forgotten the taste of strawberries and the smell of revolving credit. And thus, SAM Gamgee, the brave true hero of this tale all along, had to carry him the last few steps past the Super Committee Deadline.
At last, on a narrow ledge over the pit of burning multi-trillion Deficit, FRODO had to force himself to let go of the One Ring. And honestly, being Federal and Regulatory, and faced with so much bright and shiny flaming Capitalism, he just, well, couldn’t….
Fortunately, Gollum Palin popped out yet again, reaching for the One Ring, and bit off FRODO’s Regulatory finger all the while insisting she could see Russia (or maybe Katie Couric) from her house, and they grappled while Capitalism was all radiant below, sparking and sizzling and tossing up Kindle Fires for everyone.
By accident or fortune, or maybe cosmic convergence, as foretold by the 2012 Mayan Calendar, Gollum and the One Ring went down into the flames below. For one shining moment, pure unregulated laissez-faire Capitalism burned as bright as the sun, and seared a fatal black hole in everyone’s already empty pockets in parting….
And then the One Ring melted. As it went, it dissolved Misplaced Trust and spewed forth Real Trust, releasing it once and for all from the bonds of secret Lobbies.
Apparently, Trust, that genuine article, was just too much. The giant eyeball of SAURON exploded in a shower of unregulated currency, until dollar bills rained down like lava over Mount Debt.
And then all that juicy long-withheld goodness started to rise up in a cloud of Bailout fallout over all of MiddleEarthAmerica, quenching the raging fury of foreclosure mills, and reestablishing small business credit and lending, meanwhile taxing and scattering ORCs who earned more than $250,000 a year, and passing all kinds of long-awaited and desperately needed legislature.
The Spirit of the Economy was reborn from the ashes! On Bald Eagle wings of Eternal Unshakable Trust it rose again, proud, red, white, and blue!
The Great Eagles of Trust were immediately hired full-time with benefits, and sent to rescue FRODO and SAM, and return them to the glory of liberated Minas-Washington-Tirith and Gondor.
Here, before the populace, Aragorn Obama immediately trounced all the other party Candidates because suddenly Yes He Could—at long last!— and put on his Executive Branch Crown and married his longtime love Michelle Arwen, while everyone watched and cheered… even Nancy Eowyn Pelosi, who fortunately let go of her unrequited POTUS crush and embraced her one true mate from in the Houses of Congressional Healing. Yes, Eowyn now linked hands with Harry Faramir Reid.
Everyone bowed before the four Hobbits for a job well done, and for numerous job openings newly created. And then our diminutive heroes returned to the Shire where FRODO not only completed most of the writing of this epic story but successfully refinanced his hobbit-hole for a very reasonable fixed APR and no need for a Short Sale.
But it was time for real Hope and Change, and altogether new, commonsense Federal Regulations. And so— “So long, old FRODO.”
After FRODO sailed away with Elves on the Grey Ships to the distant western shores over the sea of global economic growth, SAM returned home one again, to his wife Rosie Cotton (whose name was in fact Rosario, and who was Hispanic, but had no interest in landscaping whatsoever and instead was eventually elected to the Supreme Court) and his adorable kids.
“Well, I’m back,” said SAM, hugging his true family values, and bravely concluding the economic epic, because seriously, who else could?
Because, notice the ALL-Caps emphasis. SAM Gamgee is otherwise known as “Some Average Moe,” or better yet, simply “you and me.”
And, you and me… Why, yes we can.
Now that’s what I call an epic ending!
* * *
Thankfully, I woke up from this crazy dream, and felt a sudden great need to floss my brain and read my teeth and drink my reading glasses.
And now I humbly beg apologies of my readers… I may be a fantasy writer, and my epic novel Lords of Rainbow owes a distant nod to Tolkien, with shades of Eowyn and unrequited love…
Curses, Jon Stewart! Curses, Stephen Colbert and Elijah Wood! You and your geek-alicious LOTR-induced “twin” Sting sword duel! And thanks a lot, CNN for televising yet another Republican debate!
This one’s for all my fellow Tolkien fans and political junkie monkeys.