No Ponies for Holden
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The thing is, I want things to make sense.
You would think that was a goddamn affliction or something, I swear. And maybe it is.
For one thing, everyone says they talk with an invisible guy who created the universe. And his magical son, or some such thing.
Now, that sounds like a bunch of bull to me, and it always did. Why wouldn't it? What do they know about that stuff? Nothing. But don't even try telling them that.
It could just be that they're lying, and sometimes I'm pretty sure they are. But the whole thing just goes on and on. Very big deal. And a big deal if you call the bull "bull," believe me. It just kills me.
Then there was that Reagan guy — he was pretty good in this movie called The Killers, where he was a real vicious bastard. He became President. I guess someone looked around the whole country and couldn't find a better guy than him. Pretty depressing when you think about it.
People acted like he was some kind of hero and also like the kindly grandfather in the dumbest book you ever read. But I didn't see it. He seemed to me like a nasty, dishonest bastard, just like in the movie. If he had to choose between his own grandpa and some stupid bank, the odds were definitely with the bank. He did the whole Robin-Hood-in-reverse thing, where the poor people get the short end of the stick, and then you take away the lousy short end, too, just to rub it in. But everyone thought it was great. I'm telling you, his whole crowd was a bunch of thieving liars. And the more they lied and stole, the bigger hero he became. Sometimes you have to wonder what is wrong with people.
This guy I knew, real smart. He said some other guy hundreds of years ago had this whole thing figured out. Said that people prefer a simple lie to a complex truth. You could lie your stupid head off, and you'd get a lot more friends than if you told the truth. Because the truth might be boring or sad or something, and it might mean there was work to do to make things not boring and sad. It was just easier to act happy, so no one had to do anything.
Don't even talk to me about the election in 2000. You've got this one guy, a real statesman. Smart and decent as the day is long, and you'd think he had leprosy or something, the way they wrote about him.
The guy who runs against him — a real piece of work. He's the black sheep (or so you'd think) of an ex-president's family. Draft dodger, drug addict, animal torturer. The works. Prances around like he's some bigtime cowboy or something. Real blue-collar outsider. What a joke.
Then this other guy, who seems like he knows what's what. Says he can't tell any difference between them, and he runs for president, too. Can't tell the difference? So, he's crazy, too, I'm telling you.
Anyway, the whole thing gets fouled up like you wouldn't believe. The cowboy — he becomes the president. Naturally. And he cons everyone into starting this huge war in Christ-knows-where for Christ-knows-what-reason.
Does somebody stand up and say as much as "beg your pardon"? Well, nobody anyone listens to, that's for sure. So, then we're killing people by the bushelfuls. Before you know it, the cowboy gets re-elected, and the war just keeps going, like it was some sweet deal we can't get enough of.
When the cowboy's term was running out, I started to get hopeful. People were getting tired of stupid wars, and maybe they were ready to show a little concern for the other guy, the one that doesn't own some goddamn bank or gun factory or something.
So up comes this new guy, talks a lot about hope. All the big phonies talked about it, too, but this guy seemed for real.
For one thing, when the war started, he had actually said that it wasn't such a hot idea. I wasn't expecting him to be our grandpa cowboy god, if you know what I mean, but I really started to feel a little hopeful.
He had already gotten into the Senate and, well, then he kept voting to spend billions of dollars to keep the war going. But I'd heard that "perfect is the enemy of good," and that kind of made sense. He was just a guy. He wasn't someone's stupid fantasy god or a big phony bastard like the grandfather or the cowboy, right?
The people in the new guy's party are mostly halfway sane, but some of them went absolutely nuts about new guy. I mean nuts, like total madman stuff. Talking about him like he's the second coming. I'm not so sure there was a first coming, so this seemed like a little much.
But perfect is the enemy of good. And maybe it wasn't his fault that whenever he said something bad or stupid, they'd make up some bull about what he really meant.
I tried talking to some of them, tell them this is starting to sound like one of those crazy cults, y'know. This guy isn't perfect but maybe he's good enough, I don't know, but can we stop jumping out of goddamn windows?
And do you know what they tell me? There's no such thing as cults. I'm telling you, if this guy stabbed you in the eye with a knife, they'd tell you there was no such thing as knives.
He wasn't stabbing anyone in the eye, as far as I know. But listening to him was starting to get kind of painful. Everyone said his speeches were inspiring, but they made me feel like the grandpa was holding me down, so the cowboy could kick me in the head.
For one thing, I heard him a bunch of times talk like religion is the same thing as morals, values, and culture. All you've got to do to depress the hell out of someone is say he's immoral or something because he won't play ball with some stupid old con game.
But he's human, he's not perfect and all that. Then I see this thing he printed up, where he says "I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will."
He says he was "called by" Jesus Christ himself to become President. The Jesus who's been dead for two-thousand years, if he ever existed at all. That Jesus. You probably think I'm making this up, but it happened, I swear.
This new guy is from the other party, the better one, mind you. And then I hear him talking up ol' Reagan.
What's more, the new guy kept making it sound like people like me, who didn't want stupid wars or being mean to poor people and stuff, were the real problem, and that everyone should just shut up and get along. He wasn't for the stupid wars or being mean to poor people, mind you. Just against people who always made a fuss about it. If we'd just get behind all that Jesus crap and stopped bickering, the grandpa and cowboy lovers would be nice too, and maybe we'd all be riding goddamn ponies with them or something 'til our stupid heads fell off.
But perfect is the enemy of good, and I didn't want to be like the dopes who couldn't tell the difference between the two parties. I did start to wonder, though, if the new guy was the one who couldn't tell the difference.