BLOG: Early Morning Musings; Inspector Javert Goes To Washington

On cinema and the fiscal cliff.

The day after Christmas we went to see the new movie of Les Miserables. Great movie. I recommend it. When we got home I was thinking about the impending doom of the fiscal cliff (If we’re lucky that situation will be resolved by the time you read this. I’m not betting on it).

The “bad guy” in Les Miz is Inspector Javert, who spends the whole 2 ½+ hours pursuing the hero, Jean Valjean. To boil the epic tale down to the nubbies, Valjean has broken parole after finishing a prison term, and Javert is dedicated to tracking him down. The audience is pulling for Valjean, who has managed to turn his life around, make something of himself, and become the patron/surrogate father of an orphan girl, but Javert is unrelenting, a Snively Whiplash type who pops up at the worst moments, determined to haul Valjean back to prison.

Javert is the bad guy, but he isn’t really a bad guy. He is, in a memorable phrase from Mark Twain, “a good man in the worst sense of the word.” He sees the world in black and white. You are good or you are bad. You are right or you are wrong.  No ambiguity allowed. Valjean has broken parole. This means he is a bad guy and Javert must bring him to justice, no matter what good Valjean has done along the way. Javert’s “problem” is that he is inflexible.

Today he would be a good candidate for the congress of the United States. We have come to the edge of the fiscal cliff because of inflexibility on both sides of the aisle. There is, of course, one thing all parties agree on: the other party is the problem. Our party is simply standing up for the good of the country. Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell ramble on about how much they want to work something out, but the “other party” refuses to cooperate (Have you noticed how much these two dudes look like each other? They look like a pair of assistant principals obsessed about boys who wear their pants too low and girls who wear their skirts too short. At least in the house one would never confuse Nancy Pelosi with John Boehner.).

Give me a break. You’ve got a job to do. Get it done. You all look like fools right now, and you make our whole country look terrible.

At the end of Les Miz (spoiler alert), Inspector Javert takes his own life. I would never begin to suggest that for the members of Congress. God forbid. But right now I wish they would all go away, and bring in some people who want to solve problems, not posture for the voting public. We aren’t fooled.

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