I blame Kellyanne Conway. She conjures my Hyde side. If I had a radio, I'd throw it out the window every time her face appeared on my TV or computer. If I had a hammer, I'd hammer it in the morning and the evening and at supper time. Also, I'd rather be a hammer than a nail, but that's a post for another day.
When someone infuriates me this much, I turn to Tennessee Williams, specifically A Streetcar Named Desire. Most of us consider it a tragic play, just another painful example of the Monster feeding on the weak and vulnerable, a 20th-century version of Tereus raping his sister-in-law Philomela and cutting out her tongue to keep her from ratting on him.
Williams himself claimed that Streetcar was really just about a misunderstanding, i.e., that everything would've been fine "if only they had all understood each other."
How hard could that be? Is it possible for me to understand Kellyanne? Can I walk a mile in her pumps? Well, I can try. I can acknowledge, for example, that what we see of her now is not the whole story.
I remember a conversation between Streetcar's Stella and her husband Stanley, whose unflagging horniness combined with infantile insecurity and neediness lead him to mark every corner of Elysian Fields as his own and use his role as "gaudy seed-bearer" to protect his hard-earned territory.
It's late enough in the play that Stan has had it with his ditzy, alcoholic, chatterbox, pretentious sister-in-law, and he hates her with every inch of his body outside his loins. Stella mistakenly tries to appeal to another organ (his heart) by telling him, "You didn't know Blanche as a girl. Nobody, nobody was as tender and trusting as she was."
|A young and probably honest Kellyanne, always loyal to her team.|
Kellyanne, too, was once a young girl. She surely had a tender heart, a joyful laugh, a winning smile and probably sold Girl Scout cookies in front of a Chick-fil-A or Hobby Lobby. She wouldn't have been capable of empathy, because her brain had not yet grown that piece of equipment. But that would come in time, in time, as it does to all of us.
|Could be Kellyanne, I don't know.|
Granted, she might've tossed a few slings and arrows of healthy adolescent bullying, but probably was pricked by some, too. And if pricked, did she not bleed?
And being a human, she has certainly suffered losses, broken dreams, failure, maybe even brutality.
We know that as a little girl, skipping home from school, her orange book bag bouncing against her back, that she did not hope to grow up to be, as James Joyce puts it, The Final Strumpet, just as no child looks forward to becoming the town drunk or a septic-tank technician.
She did not hope to be fodder for late night comedy, serving as comic relief for millions of Americans hoping to survive her boss's tenure as Leader of the Free World.
|Kellyanne still blessed by the light of youth, beauty, truth and the American way.|
From reading Streetcar, I learned that even pure love, that most wonderful gift, a God much greater than Its commercial icon Cupid, can, under unfortunate circumstances, extinguish all light from our lives, empty our hearts to such a degree that "intimacies with strangers [is] all [we have] to fill" them.
As Blanche says, after she learns the truth about her beloved Allan and, she believes, has shamed him into suicide, "the searchlight which had been turned on in the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light that's stronger than [a] kitchen candle."
(For those of you who have only seen the film and not the play: Allan is gay! Blanche walks in on him at an awkward time! Imagine Kellyanne seeing such a sight!)
This eternal darkness revises Blanche's concept of truth-telling. Halfway through Scene 1, she has already told five lies, but she later tells her affable suitor Mitch "I didn't lie in my heart."
So certainly there must have been such a searchlight in young Kellyanne's life, that moment when she felt on the brink of heaven, she could see it, could almost reach it, from her doorstep.
It was probably that moment when she had a vision of the Ideal: A 1950s upper-middle-class-white-heterosexual Utopia, where affirmative action could never lead to "two planes crashing in the sky," and where parents who "don't want their kids looking at a cartoon with a bunch of lesbian mothers"* would not have such abominations forced upon them.
Was this asking too much? But, oh, how to get there, how to find the Orange Grail?
Sadly, she hitched her dragon to a czar.
And never again has there been a light any brighter than the ones on a FoxNews set. Now the poor woman tries to fill her empty heart by telling lies every day to millions of Americans, telling them with a beauty queen's smile, but a fading beauty queen, pickled and withered, hiding her aging with a hastily applied mask, the eyeliner thick and uneven, because she cannot avoid those LED lamps and reality's cruel ally, High Definition.
|Having seen better days . . .|
But to Kellyanne, she is not lying to us, not in her heart. Like Blanche, she trades facts for fantasy. Blanche puts it this way: "I don't want realism. I want magic. Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. . . . I don't tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth. . . . Don't turn the light on!"
Then maybe Kellyanne is more to be pitied than censured. Like many of Williams' characters, she is fixated on a lost dream, looking back while time moves on inexorably, world without end.
And here endeth my defense, my conversion therapy for Hydeanism, and my quest for empathy through literature.
I would now like to apologize to my readers: I wrote this in a hurry, but for good reason: Kellyanne's tenure on the Titanic will be brief, so I wanted to share this before she entered the dark, gloomy, unregulated asylum that now houses Sarah Palin.
Yes, the stranger is at the door, dear lady, and it is not Ronald Reagan. We know you have always depended on the kindness of strangers, so go to him now, you can't refuse.
|Blanche being forced to relinquish her alternative facts|
But we're here for you and we're going to try really hard to forgive your folly, and we hope your conscience gets a good cleansing and that you get your Hyde tanned and exorcised, and become the woman you were meant to be.
*Kellyanne actually said these silly things. You can look'em up!