Welcome to Ted Cruz¹s Thunderdome by Maureen Dowd, NY Times, 10/6/13
A PLACE ONCE CALLED WASHINGTON
AN ape sits where Abe sat.
The year is 2084, in the capital of the land formerly called North America.
The peeling columns of the Lincoln Memorial, and Abe¹s majestic head,
elegant hands and big feet are partially submerged in sludge. Animals that
escaped from the National Zoo after zookeepers were furloughed seven decades
ago migrated to the memorials, hunting for food left by tourists.
The white marble monuments are now covered in ash, Greek tragedy ruins
overrun with weeds. Tea Party zombies, thrilled with the dark destruction
they have wreaked on the planet, continue to maraud around the Hill, eager
to chomp on humanity some more.
Dead cherry blossom trees litter the bleak landscape. Trash blows through
L¹Enfant¹s once beautiful boulevards, now strewn with the detritus of
democracy, scraps of the original Constitution, corroded White House ID
cards, stacks of worthless bills tumbling out of the Treasury Department.
The BlackBerrys that were pried from the hands of White House employees in
2013 are now piled up on the Potomac as a flood barrier against the
ever-rising tide from melting ice caps. Their owners, unable to check their
messages, went insane long ago.
Because there was no endgame, the capital¹s hunger games ended in a gray
void. Because there was no clean bill, now there is only a filthy stench.
Because there was no wisdom, now there is only rot. The instigators, it
turned out, didn¹t even know what they were arguing for. Macho thrusts and
feints, competing to win while the country lost.
Thomas Jefferson¹s utopia devolved into Ted Cruz¹s dystopia.
Law and order broke down as police, who were not getting paid, eventually
decided to stay home. The fanatics barricaded in the Capitol dug in,
determined to tear down what their idols, the founding fathers, had built.
Darkness soon devoured the rest of the country.
Unlike Suzanne Collins¹s ³The Hunger Games,² where the capital thrived as
the nation withered, here, the capital withered first, as the federal city
shriveled without federal funds. But, in other ways, it mirrors the fantasy
dystopias depicted by Hollywood and Cormac McCarthy in his novel ³The Road,²
³bloodcults² consuming one another in ³an ashen scabland,² a ³cold illucid
In 2084, there¹s little sign of life in the godless and barren lost world.
The insurance exchanges are open and the kinks are almost ironed out. But
there is no one to sign up. Koch brother drones patrol the skies. A Mad Max
motorcycle gang wielding hacksaws roars through the C.I.A., now a field of
dead cornstalks, and the fetid hole that was once Michelle Obama¹s organic
vegetable garden. Will Smith and Brad Pitt are here, hunting aliens and
The Navy-Air Force game goes on, somehow, and there are annual CrossFit
games on the Mall, led by flesh-eating Dark Seeker Paul Ryan, now 114 years
old. CrossFit is still fighting the Department of Agriculture¹s food
pyramid, even though there¹s no Department of Agriculture and no food.
A gaunt man and sickly boy, wrapped in blue tarps, trudge toward the
blighted spot that was once the World War II monument, scene of the first
shutdown skirmishes. They know they may not survive the winter.
³How did this happen, Papa?² the boy asks.
³Americans had been filled with existential dread since the 9/11 attacks,
but they didn¹t realize the real danger was coming from inside the
government,² the man says. ³It started very small with a petty fight over a
six-week spending bill but quickly mushroomed out of control.²
³Whose fault was it, Papa?² the boy presses.
The man tries to explain: ³The Grand Old Party, the proud haven of patriots
who believed in a strong national security and fiscal responsibility, was
infected with a mutant form of ideology. It was named the Sarahcuda Strain
after the earliest carrier. Remember when you saw that old science fiction
movie, ŒI Am Legend¹? A scientist described the virus that burned through
civilization as being like Œa very fast car driven by a very bad man.¹
That¹s what happened: In the infected Tea Party politicians, brain function
decreased and social de-evolution occurred. They began ignoring their basic
³It¹s hard to believe now, but they were fixated on stopping an effort to
get health care to those who couldn¹t afford it. It eventually led them to
destroy all the things they said they held most dear.²
The boy is confused. ³They killed America because they didn¹t care about
keeping Americans alive?² he asks.
The man sits down. His voice grows faint. ³Well, they didn¹t seem to
understand themselves or what they were doing,² he continues. ³In the face
of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many of the feverish pols believed
they were waging the right and moral fight even as G.O.P. party elders like
Jeb Bush, John McCain, Karl Rove and James Baker warned them that they were
dragging the country toward catastrophe. The Tea Party leaders liked to
refer to themselves as the Children of Reagan. But as Baker told Peggy
Noonan, Reagan always said, ŒI¹d rather get 80 percent of what I want than
go over the cliff with my flag flying.¹ ²
The boy frowns. ³But Papa, didn¹t the healthy Republicans realize the
infected ones had lower brain functions?²
³Well, son, they knew there was something creepy about the ringleader, Ted
Cruz,² the man replies. ³His face looked pinched, like a puzzle that had not
been put together quite right. He was always launching into orations with a
weird cadence and self-consciously throwing folksy phrases into his
speeches, like ŒLet me tell ya,¹ to make himself seem Texan, when he was
really a Canadian.²
The boy looks alarmed. ³A Canadian destroyed the world, Papa?²
³Once the government shut down, a plague came, because they had closed the
Center for Disease Control,² the man says. ³Storms, floods and wildfires
raged after FEMA was closed down and the National Guard got decimated.
³Once we went into default, the globe got sucked into the economic vortex.
With a lot of the Defense Department, F.B.I., and intelligence community on
forced leave, the country became vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Without
the C.I.A. to train the moderate Syrian rebels, Syria fell to Al Qaeda.
³After the final American president, Barack Obama, canceled his trip to
Asia, that part of the world decided we were weak. China moved quickly to
fill the vacuum. Obama grew so disgusted, he spent his final years in office
isolated in the White House residence. When he stopped returning the calls
of Hassan Rouhani and Bibi Netanyahu, it was only a matter of time before
the Middle East went up in flames.
³What is left of the world is being run by Julian Assange from what is left
of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London and by some right-wing nut in a cabin in
The boy begins to cry. ³Papa, stop. You¹re making me sad. Are all the good
Looking through the gray skies toward the ashen Lincoln Memorial, where an
ape sits in Abe¹s chair, the man replies sadly, ³Yes, son.²