We have as a nation greeted with sadness the recent announcement of the closing of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus after 146 years of that great institution’s entertaining town and farm with acts that thrilled and amazed. But there is cause for hope.
Our latter-day Phineas T. Barnum, Donald J. Trump, has led the elephant parade to our nation’s capital.
We are privileged to witness that historical moment when “The Greatest Show on Earth” is succeeded by the “Make America Great Again” show. Surely this peaceful transition of power is worthy of patriotic celebration.
Mr. Trump, to the fanfare of trumpets, the skirling of bagpipes and the cadence of marching bands, bids fair to favor his audience with a Cabinet of wonders. From its “Mad Dog” soldier to its rhetorical contortionists to its financial jugglers, it stupefies as it enthralls. And with its wonderful trapeze artists swinging to and fro, in apparent weightlessness, doing double-takes on whether the apparatus they have been named to grace with their heart-stopping leaps and flourishes should be permitted even to exist, this Cabinet promises to give both yokel and cosmopolite as great entertainment as they ever received for their Ringling Bros. pulled-from-the-paper-roll tickets.
Mr. Trump’s horse-and-pony show features gaily plumed fillies that whinny spiritedly as they canter about in his honor, and stallions that hit their cues and flaunt their withers with the enthusiasm of prize Lipizzaners.
The “Make America Great Again” circus boasts big, fearsome fat cats of business and industry long of tooth and sharp of claw, which they threaten to rake across the school, health, justice and environmental protection systems, restrained only by the whip and chair of the beleaguered congressional minorities.
Snake charmers, mermaids and acrobats shot from cannons are sure to drop the jaws of stunned crowds from Provincetown to Monterrey Bay. And of course we will find delight in the performance of a great shaggy dancing bear trained in Moscow.
Most of all, the baton of the 146-year-old, lamented Ringling Bros. Circus will be taken up by the most diverting, imaginative and eccentric legion of clowns that has beguiled a grateful populace since the Marx brothers filmed “A Day at the Circus.”
Presiding over all this glitter and splendor and sawdust, his dream of monopolizing the center of attention under the Big Top of American populism magnificently realized, his adulatory minions, we little people of America, nailed to our seats in wonder, towers D.J. Trump, his features stern but beatific in self-acclamation, his struggles our struggles, his triumphs our triumphs, his gaudy Mar-a-Lago the legitimate heir to Ringling’s balmy Sarasota, our own spectacular era’s P.T. Barnum.
Dan Campion is a resident of Iowa City.
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