Last week my wife and I had the pleasure of joining over 400 others outside the PA Supreme Court in Harrisburg to show support for Diane Goslin, CPM. Diane has assisted women in delivering babies for 25 years in south-central PA. She had the dubious distinction of being selected by the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs as a test case for their ongoing push to control every aspect of childbirth and women's health in PA. Since Americans long ago ceded control over "medicine" to the State, it needed only the redefinition of pregnancy as a disease and childbirth as a medical procedure to assert control over midwives and the mothers they serve.
But my reason for writing about the trip has nothing to do with midwifery. As we were leaving the Capitol, we were treated to a highly entertaining spectacle that was too good not to share. In front of a row of fountains a gentleman who appeared to be taking lessons in motivational speech stood at a podium with the distinguished banner of the PAGOP. Behind him about 15 assemblymen and senators stood in a semi-circle, mechanically clapping their hands and smiling artificially at a large array of TV cameras. Between the actors and the cameras stood about 50 chairs, of which 47 were unoccupied. The remaining three held news reporters, busily scratching on note pads whenever a particularly quotable breath of hot air chanced to escape the overwrought dignitary.
I couldn't resist stopping to listen - indeed it took some little self-control not to volunteer my own thoughts to such a receptive audience. It seemed that these gentlemen had been tasked with the responsibility of formulating an official response to the current hemorrhage of voters from the Republican Party. The solutions they had devised were now being communicated to the eager grassroots volunteers represented by the 47 empty chairs. They appeared to be immune to the shame and consternation one would expect from less brazen actors on finding themselves in an empty auditorium. One after another, they were introduced, stepped forward, cordially shook the moderator's hand, and expressed in their own simple way how excited they were to be Republicans in this election season.
I forgot to mention that behind the cameras, a group of overstuffed aides with flourescent light exposure syndrome stood waiting for the bosses to finish their charade. Each of them appeared to be memorizing the herringbone pattern of the suit in front of him, though some of them were probably just sleeping on their feet. As I watched and wondered, a pushy camera-woman prodded them to life and requested that they take up new positions in front of the camera, saying by way of explanation: "I need it to look like there's people here!"
I regret to say that I failed to conceal the combination of merriment and disdain evoked by this spectacle, and although the speaker pretended not to notice me, our initial eye contact seemed a little disconcerting to him.
Everyone needs a good laugh now and then.
P.S. I mentioned the above incident to my Dad, with the rhetorical question: "Who do they think they're kidding?" His response: "Everyone."
Maybe it isn't so funny after all.