There is a moment in Toy Story when Sheriff Woody realizes that Buzz Lightyear is really, truly delusional; Buzz is not merely acting the part of a Space Ranger, Buzz honestly believes that he is from the Gamma Quadrant and must return there to continue the fight against the evil Emperor Zurg. Woody, at this point, has reached the end of his rope: he has been effectively replaced as Andy’s favorite toy by a state-of-the-art plastic man with absolutely no concept of reality whatsoever. In a moment of pure, unadulterated frustration, Woody shouts, “You are a child’s plaything!”
This, of course, does nothing to convince Buzz. Woody’s outrage might as well have been directed to the spaceship-shaped box in which Buzz arrived in Andy’s room; the result is the same: Buzz continues to live his delusion.
Woody’s frustration and rage are compounded by the fact that he and Buzz are lost; far away from Andy’s room with little hope of ever returning. Yet Buzz presses ever onward, driven further away from his true home by a delusion, completely divorced from reality.
If the precise sentiment Woody expressed to Buzz doesn’t apply to the men and women who govern the United States of America, ((I’m more inclined to think of our representatives in the legislative branch as sullen, recalcitrant children than toys, but at least we’re dealing with approximately the same level of maturity.)) the degree of frustration I feel certainly does. This body purports to be, among the entire population of the country, the most suited to create the rules by which we must all live, yet they cannot put aside their bickering and backstabbing, their snide remarks and open hostility toward one another to pass a single piece of legislature in time of crisis.
I don’t know if the $700 billion “bailout” is a good idea or not. It’s not my job to understand the intricacies of the plan; my taxes pay the salaries of people who are ostensibly sworn to do that for me. My frustration is not derived from the fact that the bill was not passed yesterday, but rather from the fact that the only thing the past week has accomplished is to elevate the rhetoric to altitudes approaching Low Earth orbit. After risking the largest single instance of collectively-strained trapezius muscles in history by calling a press conference ((News Flash: the “Main Street/Wall Street” contrast was tired and trite already last week; it’s even more so today. Please, find something original to say about this financial apocalypse or don’t say anything. Better yet, stop talking about it and start doing something about it.)) on Saturday to congratulate themselves for working on the weekend (all for the good of their country), this most august of bodies proceeded, two days later, to accomplish absolutely nothing. ((The concept of playing well with others is apparently isolated to kindergarten; it is certainly not embraced in Washington, D.C.))
I can yell all I want, but the simple, sad fact of the matter is that, like Woody, I am effectively impotent. My words will fall on deaf (or worse, deluded) ears and I will achieve the same result as if I, too, were talking to a plastic toy. The biggest difference here is that Buzz Lightyear eventually comes to grips with reality and works with Woody to find a solution to their dilemma.
That’s where Woody’s main advantage over me comes into play: he lives in a Disney movie. Just once, it would be nice if I did, too. Just once, it would be nice if the people who govern this country came together and accomplished something for the sake of something larger than themselves, and did it a measure of dignity and camaraderie.
I wouldn’t be even the slightest bit annoyed by the Randy Newman music.