Santa Monica Daily Press columnist Jack Neworth and I rarely agree. He supports gun control. I think that more guns control crime. He still hates Bush for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think President Obama is Bush with more bombast, plus extra lift from the mainstream media. South Bay residents despise “Waxman the Taxman.” The Santa Monicans chant “Long live King Henry!”
But we do have some things in common. We are both Homo Sapiens. We both live in the same Congressional district. We also agree that “Seinfeld” is one funny show.
When Neworth opened his latest column (“One was duped, the other doped,” Laughing Matters, Jan. 25) with a reference to “Seinfeld,” I could not help but e-mail back to him my favorite episode: “The Old Man.” In this episode, Jerry wants to play good Samaritan to an old grump named Sid Fields. He does nothing but curse and berate the comedian, only at the end to ask him “Would you change my diaper?” followed by his uproarious laughter. The old man had been playing Jerry for a fool the whole time.
I was surprised but relieved when Neworth wrote back to me: “Hilarious! I have never seen this episode before!” Instead of bickering and arguing, we were laughing. A liberal and a conservative found some common ground. When I pitched to him the idea that perhaps “Seinfeld” can ease the gridlock in Washington — what “Seinfeld” creator Larry David might call “Curb your Partisan Enthusiasm” for our current leaders — Neworth was not so sure. Then again, the show about “Nothing” could be the perfect cure for a Congress which has done nothing for the last two years, and make us laugh in the process.
Of course, I am not the first one to suggest that Washington politicians, especially the Republicans, need to have more fun. In a recent op-ed, former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan told her conservative colleagues: “It’s pirate time.” Up until recently, the GOP establishment has been whining: “But I don’t wanna be a pirate,” just as Jerry did when Kramer’s low-talking girlfriend showcased her “puffy shirt” for Jerry to wear on a morning talk show for everyone to “enjoy.” (By the way, the GOP has a “stuffy shirt” problem: old, rich white men, but no “Festivus for the rest of us!”)
Perhaps voters should send Cosmo Kramer to Congress, where he can stand on the floor of the House of Representatives and shout “Serenity now!” Let’s just hope that he doesn’t wander into a room of computers, or a caucus of Republicans, for that matter. Maybe we could call in to the U.S. Senate New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, George Costanza’s boss, where he can “blooooooooooow them away” with his own self-involved, self-absorbed filibusters about chicken hot-dogs and why his wife forgot to pack him salami for lunch. I am certain that both sides of the aisle will move for cloture very quickly. One grating monologue, and filibuster reform would be on its way.
Currently, all voters watch the 6 O’clock News and witness a lot of Beltway bitterness and backbiting. Every time one politician tries to make peace, the other sides growls: “You can stuff your ‘sorrys’ in a sack, mister!” And we all know what that means! Henry Waxman wasn’t my “pick” for Congress, but that does not make me an animal, does it? Maybe if Republicans had sent him a second “thank you,” he would not be so mad at them. Or maybe Democrats think that all Republicans are “The devils! The devils!” Perhaps if they and their cost-cutting colleagues went into a coma — just like Elaine’s visiting Colombian priest, who was scared by a devilishly painted Puddy after a hockey game — they would spend less time fighting and learn to work together.
Republicans want to cut spending. Why not call their plan “shrinkage?” Democrats want to grow government. Why not call them the “Bubble Boy Party?” Every voter wants government to protect entitlements: to change grandpa’s diapers and to take care of “Nanna” or our “Uncle Leo,” too. (Jerry, hello!)
Think about it long enough, and it starts making sense. “We the people” are the “masters of our domain.” Just because a Democrat or a Republican wins a local contest to represent us in Congress does not mean that they can put their hands on our tax dollars (or anywhere else). They need to make the whole muffin of legislating work before they can start cutting the tops off of government waste, if you know what I mean. I still watch “Seinfeld” reruns just before I go to sleep at night. Perhaps Congress should do the same. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a writer and blogger on issues both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A lifelong resident of Southern California, he currently lives in Torrance.