The politics of angst

Julian Fellowes, co-author and producer of “Downton Abbey,” had a tip last week for playwrights and, it seems, politicians. As those who watched the series to the bitter end, but what Lord Fellowes said did not bode well for fans of the costume soap opera on PBS.

“Nothing is harder to dramatize than happiness,” Fellowes told the “London Telegraph.”

It is a lesson politicians and lobbyists on this side of the Atlantic have taken to heart.

Let people think they are happy and they stop going to rallies. Happy souls stop writing checks to the party or the cause. Keep people worried about something and they will stuff your pockets with cash.

The current squabble over gun control is a prime example. No one suggests taking anyone’s guns, despite what you read and hear from the National Rifle Association. The assault weapon ban is meaningless and going nowhere, anyway. The alleged assault rifles are semi-automatic weapons. They just look like a military weapon.

About the only substantive proposal will limit the number of rounds in a magazine. Some suggest the number of rounds should be reduced from 30 to say 10. People who wail and gnash their teeth over this issue forget we have been content for decades with shotguns limited to three rounds (instead of five) and the US fought World War II with the M1 Garand rifle. If an eight round clip was good enough for Omaha Beach, you can get by with 10.

At moments like these, I want to hire Jack Nicholson as spokesman for those wishing not to be disturbed by a contrived crisis. I’m thinking of the scene from “A Few Good Men.” Nicholson stands in the witness box and yells at Tom Cruise, “Please tell me that you did not bring me up here over whether or not someone wants to buy a semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip. I have real work to do and if you can’t come up with something that matters, I’m out of here.”

Okay, so he didn’t say exactly that. But it sounds good, anyway.

Add to this script a president who appears slipping or distracted or bored. Donald Trump tweets first and thinks later. Perhaps Trump is having great fun while the work goes on around him, but he seemingly relishes stirring the pot.

Perhaps Trump will mature enough to not want to hoard every toy in the sand box. He may even discover you don’t have to turn every financial benchmark into a showdown with Congress and the Democrats. Donald may figure that out, or already know it, but I doubt it. He values more continuing confrontation and appeals to his base to keep the dollars flowing.

It seems Julian Fellowes, Donald Trump, the Tea Party and the NRA edited happiness out of this season’s script.

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