For those who grew up with movies and TV shows, there’s something missing from real politics.
It’s that “Inherit the Wind” moment – the one where one side dissolves. We never get that in real life – or we didn’t until the capitol riot (show here). Let me back up:
“Inherit the Wind” is a fictional version of what’s called the “monkey trial.” Matthew Harrison Brady (a fictional version of William Jennings Bryan) is prosecuting someone for teaching evolution; Henry Drummond (a fictional Clarence Darrow) puts Brady on the stand.
And then, of course, Hollywood gets its ending. Soon, Brady is reduced to an aimless recitation; his cause and his career have disintegrated.
Movies always work out that way. In the old “Perry Mason” mysteries, the villain convenietnly self-destructed on the witness stand, at the end of each hour.
We expect that to happen in real life; it didn’t – until now:
Donald Trump told his supporters he would walk with them to the Capitol. Then he got back into his limousine, returned to the White House and watched them on TV. He saw things trashed – a building, a nation, the reputations of the attackers … and his own reputation. He had his Brady moment.
Or, actually, his Greg Stillson moment. That’s from Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone”:
Johnny Smith, it seems, has a rare gift: When he shakes someone’s hand, he sees the future. Then he meets Stillson, who wants to be president. He sees apocalypse and ruin.
(Ironically, Stillson is played in the movie by Martin Sheen, who turned out to be a splendid president.)
That leads to the big scene: With a gunman loose, Stillson protects himself by holding a baby in front of him. A photographer captures the scene; Stillson’s career and reputation are shattered.
That’s what we finally got in real life. Amid chaos, many people behaved honorably; Donald Trump metaphorically shielded himself with a baby. It was an “Inherit the Wind” moment, a “Dead Zone” moment. It was the big finish to a movie that ran way too long.