America's Most Critical Journal (since 1999)
Mr. Bluster Runs for President
14 April 2015
ONCE UPON A TIME there was a town called Doodyville, located in the state of She Wore A New Jersey, and it was comprised mostly of children.
Doodyville's mayor was an exuberant youth named Howdy Doody (great-grandson of the founder). He was assisted by his adult guardian, Buffalo Bob. Howdy's girlfriend was the blossoming Princess, Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring. The Princess traced her roots back to her royal family, who had originally held the charter to a large area which included Doodyville. These three were able to successfully guide Doodyville through all the usual difficulties most towns faced, and the town flourished.
However, a dark cloud loomed on the horizon. One day, a new man became governor of She Wore A New Jersey, and everything changed. This man won his election promising to be a man of the people and to eschew politics. He pledged he would "tell it like it is," and not be bound by the ideology of political parties. He was confident, straightforward, and loud. His name was Mr. Bluster.
Much to the dismay of Howdy Doody and the Princess, Mr. Bluster's first major initiative was to pick a fight with all the teachers in She Wore a New Jersey.
Without even meeting or negotiating with the teachers, Mr. Bluster flounced and pounced, and made a scapegoat of the teachers. He told everyone the teachers were the main cause of the state's budget woes, and demanded they concede to his every wish, including a significant reduction in their pensions. Mr. Bluster went on to tell the public the state pension fund was in serious arrears, and needed to be quickly replenished.
Gesturing wildly, he also accused the teachers and other state employees of getting a "boat check." That was the check they received at retirement for not using sick days through their careers. Mr. Bluster said this enabled the newly retired employees to go out and buy a boat. Needless to say, the children of Doodyville were aghast at the attack on their beloved teachers. They knew some of the teachers couldn't even swim.
During his first term of his governing, Mr. Bluster used the same kinds of tactics to approach major issues. He would zero-in on part of a problem, make a lot of noise, obfuscate the complexities involved in potential solutions, and not consult with all concerned.
Carrying this strategy further, Governor Bluster held "Town Meetings" all over the State. Mostly though, these meetings were gatherings for his party's faithful who would cheer his every word. Once, a woman challenged his philosophy, and she was ridiculed by the Governor. Another time a man holding a sign was told to, "Sit down and shut up."
Later, Governor Bluster was honored, when he was asked to make a seconding speech for the nomination of his political party's candidate for President of the nation. His speech was vintage Bluster. He mentioned the candidate once, and talked about himself the rest of the time.
Then an enormous calamity befell She Wore A New Jersey. A monstrous hurricane ravaged the hundreds of miles of ocean shore, and destroyed billions of dollars worth of property. The Governor was everywhere, hugging and kissing distraught citizens, and promising quick relief. When the newly elected President of the country toured, Mr. Bluster hugged him too.
Whether the hug from a member of the opposite party had anything to do with it or not, no one knows, but the President released billions of dollars for rebuilding and gave it to Mr. Bluster to distribute. After setting up the bureaucracy to disburse the funds, one of the first expenditures was to develop and broadcast a TV commercial which featured Governor Bluster flexing his muscles in front of the ocean. The Governor wore a costume with a big red "S" on his chest as he said, "Stronger than the storm." Unfortunately though, the bureaucracy became muddled and befuddled, and the rebuilding money only trickled down to the citizens. Many lawsuits and investigations resulted.
Mother nature had nothing to do with the next misfortune to hit the Bluster Administration. Some of his appointees took it upon themselves to punish the mayor of one of the other towns in She Wore A New Jersey. This mayor had refused to support Bluster in his bid to be reelected, so Bluster's folks closed some lanes on a great bridge to the Big Apple, the largest city in the country. This resulted in major traffic jams for long periods of time that endangered sick people, disabled people, and children, and cost millions of dollars in lost time, wages, and fuel.
It took a while for both the seriousness and responsibility for the lane closings to become public knowledge, and eventually be investigated. Defending Governor Bluster's appointees, as well as the cost of numerous investigations, seriously depleted the state's treasury.
Howdy Doody, the Princess and Buffalo Bob discussed the situation.
The Princess said, "Even though Governor Bluster was not found to have ordered the lane closings, how could he not have known what was going on?"
Howdy Doody said, "Certainly, he was responsible for fostering this kind of attitude among his appointees."
Buffalo Bob said, "I'm surprised, he didn't make another TV commercial. The Governor could have stood in front of the bridge wearing his costume with the big red 'S,' flexed his muscles and said, stronger than the bridge."
In his second term of being Governor, Mr. Bluster decided to test the waters to see if he could win election as President of the entire country. He bounced around to events in many states, proclaiming his successes in She Wore A New Jersey.
Funny thing though: the issue he began with, was once again in the forefront. Mr. Bluster had reneged on his previously arranged deal to put the State's fully required contributions into the under-funded pension system. And when ordered by a judge to find a solution, he bristled, "We don't need a court to tell us we have a serious problem." Then he went on to say he had a deal with the teachers on their pensions. However, the teacher's union president denied this saying, "There is not a deal." What goes around, comes around, and trying to satisfy his own right-wing, Pea Party, was proving to be very difficult for Governor Bluster.
Unfortunately, the last few pages of Grimm's Tales are missing, and we're left with some unanswered questions. Did the citizens ever stop listening to Bluster? Did the Governor ever become President? Did the teachers ever buy a lot of boats? Did Howdy Doody ever grow up? And most of all, did anyone live happily ever after?
David Weinraub is a former high school principal who used to spray water on kids smoking cigarettes from the auditorium roof. You can get his new novel "Resistance," a WW II story published by Black Rose Writing, at www.davidweinraub.com or at www.blackrosewriting.com.