Al Capp, the cartoonist who invented Li'l Abner and Dogpatch, drew a series of strips many, many years ago about a character named Fearless Fosdick. He drew Fosdick as an obvious homage to Dick Tracy (and he looked a lot like one of Sarah Palin's pals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.)
The intrepid crime fighter would go to any lengths to catch baddies and to save America from all enemies, foreign and domestic. He perceived himself as the only force standing between the America we know and love and utter chaos.
In the strip, it came to pass that there was huge threat to the nation's food supply. A major food supplier had created a batch of baked beans that was contaminated by a deadly poison. (I don't remember whether it was a mistake or the result of a nefarious plot. No matter! Fosdick was on the job!) He managed to find and destroy all the cans of poisoned beans … except one. So Fosdick set out to save the nation from the can of poisoned beans. He would dash onto the scene just in the nick of time. The endangered person about to eat the beans, in every case, was saved — from the beans, at least.
"Can't let innocent citizens eat beans that may be poisoned," Fearless Fosdick told the chief of police. "So I just shoot anyone I even seen near the beans. It's the only safe way."
And that's what he did (which produced a lovely round hole through the head and one large drop of blood). But alas! The can of poisoned beans would fall or fly out of the saved person's hand onto a speeding train or out the window of an airplane or onto the back of a speeding truck.
Curses! Foiled again!
The crusade went on.
Eventually the poisoned beans wound up in the hands of his little old gray-haired mother. And yes, he shot her to save her from the poisoned beans.
• • •
It seems to me that the Republican Party is engaged in a colossal game of Government by the Fosdick Rules, with the GOP adopting the attitude that Obamacare is "poisoned bean" legislation from which we must be saved. The tea party gang is the latest iteration of the Fosdick method of problem-solving. Their Fosdick logic is faultless; if the government is about to enact a law you don't like, just kill the government. Voila!
There is a model for today's tea party in literature: Lewis Carroll's delightful Mad Hatter's Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland. The Mad Hatter (who looks a bit like Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell) put a salutary dollop of butter in his pocket watch. It refused to keep time. Obviously it should be grateful. After all, it was the very best butter.
So, boys and girls, your lesson for today is, if you don't like the way apples are being picked, close the orange grove. If someone might get hurt, just shoot him before he takes a bite.
Off we go to Oz. Tra la la. No heart? No courage? No brains? No problem! Tra la la.
Sheila Stoll writes occasionally on topics that hit a nerve. You can reach her at [email protected]