SOLOMON: Under the Capitol Big Top, It's a Great Show

Step right this way for a thousand thrills! A thousand chills!Under the Capitol big top, you'll see blow-dried fire eaters! Oratorical snake charmers! A white-maned lion tamer from Chicago! And hired guns, eager to rescue the death-defying pioneer from a backwoods town called Hope!Venture to the secret chamber, where 100 voices are mysterious and all the doors are barred. Exactly what are they saying? That's not for you to know.If the action gets slow, you can go to an arcade and watch videos. Or wander up the avenue and try to catch a glimpse of the never-bearded First Lady.But you probably won't be gone for long. There's plenty of exhilaration along the political midway.Find yourself enthralled with the spinning big wheels! Marvel at the shell games, where the invisible hand is always quicker than the eye! Watch the smooth-tongued barkers under the hot studio lights! Share their excitement!Enter the main tent, and you'll sit on the edge of your seat -- looking up in awe at classy high-wire acts. The acrobats fly through the airwaves with the greatest of ease. Don't worry -- they need not be concerned about the hard ground below. Safety nets are disappearing across the land, but not under the Capitol big top.This may be the greatest political show on Earth. And the price of admission is merely a thick wad of credulity.The people running the show are astute about shakedowns. Along the midway, they warn against pickpockets and unlicensed con artists. But the authorized scams are the ones exacting a really high price.Choose up sides. Get fervent and emotional. Boo the managers or the defenders. Get choked up, moved by eloquence and appeals to reason. Cheer for one side or the other.Watch the donkeys and the elephants as they cavort and prance. If you wonder why they're wearing blinders, remember that these performances require intense concentration.Such tricks can't be done under distracting conditions. Terrific finesse is involved. No matter how well-trained, no pachyderm or jackass in the world can keep doing these things if peripheral vision intrudes.Sure, beyond the perimeter of the circus, there's plenty to worry about. Corporate giants stride the land, with more and more power concentrated in just a few of their colossal hands. Key decisions get made with little or no public involvement. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the ozone we depend on for life - - these are all under threat.But, hey, you don't have to bother with that stuff. The greatest political show on Earth is getting even wilder.And don't forget the peep shows! No yellow storefronts here. This is high-class. Just about anyone gets to leer, wink and smirk. The young ones may lack some sophistication, but they'll get the hang of it as time goes on.Though not because of popular demand, this show has been held over, again and again. We might wonder why there's no one who can order these tents to come down. It seems that too many performers are having too much fun to stop now.If you want to complain to management, forget it. The 100 mysterious people inside the secret chamber can barely hear you. Together, they spent about $450 million to get there. Even if they took the blinders off and folded this show tomorrow, any concern you could name is going to seem more peripheral than their zeal to keep raising lots of cash.You don't have to pay for such performances under the Capitol big top -- admission is free -- or so it seems. But if you want to count the real costs, take a look around the city or town where you live. Consider the enormous resources of our society and the consequences of our extreme failure to provide adequate health care, nutrition, housing and education for all.Step right this way for a thousand thrills! A thousand chills!Norman Solomon is co-author of "Wizards of Media Oz." His new book "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media" will be published in March.

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