The Greatest Show on Earth?

Published 8:30 am Monday, January 30, 2017

Did you see where the three-ring circus is endangered to the point of closing down? Am I speaking about the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus or the federal government? Both deal with elephants, and the federal government could be a three-ring circus if you count Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court.
Speaking from experience, I can attest to the circus metaphor because I have been to many performances of the Greatest Show on Earth, beginning with 1960 spring break when our family went to New York City and saw the circus at Madison Square Garden. Years later, I attended the Ringling Brothers Circus many times while living in Washington. What a spectacle!
As far as spectacles go, the current state of our federal government with a new and puzzling President, to a Congress split politically in many different directions, to the near-dormant U.S. Supreme Court that has been in session but with one-arm tied behind its back. It is a freak show over there!
In all fairness, while the Ringling Brothers circus did indeed include a freak show, it ceased showing the attractions in later years. Who can forget “Little Willie Bee?” You look at him with two eyes and he looks back at you with three.
How politically incorrect does that sound today?
Or does it? With a new president, one of which we are just now getting a clearer picture, political correctness may take a backseat to the unfiltered style of the “Tweeter in Chief” Donald Trump.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals deserve all the credit they can absorb for shutting down the Greatest Show on Earth.
Just as one Greatest Show on Earth disappears, our new federal government fills the void with an angry bunch of senators and congressmen, walking a tight-rope called Obamacare, a short-handed Supreme Court that cannot seem to find its bearings, and a president and first lady who seem a bit bewildered by all the attention.
There are alternatives to the three-ring circus like Cirque du Soleil. That Paris-based extravaganza features real human beings with no animals involved in the production. The stars of the show are folks that can contort their bodies into magical shapes and they can defy death in all manner of stunts.
As PETA went after the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, so may the supporters of Obamacare. They will argue that Cirque du Soleil poses increased health care costs due to injuries.
With the sweep of an executive order pen, Trump could eliminate lots of potential injurious activity, but thank God he will not. Cirque du Soleil is safe under Trump. Obamacare? Not so much.
I have attended many performances of the original Greatest Show on Earth, from Madison Square Garden to the hushed chambers of Congress and the Supreme Court, and the majesty of the West Wing of the White House. Speaking from experience I am sure that the three-ring circus that is the federal Greatest Show on Earth will remain with us for generations to come — with or without elephants.

A native of Niles, Jack Strayer moved back home in 2009 after living and working in Washington DC since 1976. Strayer has served as a congressional staffer, state legislative press secretary, federal registered lobbyist and Vice President of the National Center for Policy Analysis. He is a nationally recognized expert on federal health policy reform and led the fight for the enactment of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).