The superheroes I always found hard to keep track of were the ones who kept relaunching themselves. I mean, Batman’s been Batman for 70 years and Spider-Man’s been Spider-Man for the best part of 50. But I’m thinking of chaps like Ant-Man. Very small, as one might expect. Then he became Giant-Man. Then he became Yellowjacket (his girlfriend was the Wasp). Then he became Goliath. I’ve lost track of him since then. But, thanks to my usual 20-second exhaustive research, I see he was relaunched only a month ago, this time as the Wasp. Hang on, I thought the Wasp was his chick? Has he had a sex-change? Hey, why not? For a while he was both Giant-Man and Yellowjacket, playing a kind of schizoid double-hero with each superpower emphasizing a different side of his identity.
Anyway, that’s how I feel about the endlessly morphing supergovernment hero battling the planet-swallowing economic crisis. Back in September, we were told to put our faith in Bailoutman. Then in January, Bailoutman went to his tailor, had the long underwear redesigned, and relaunched himself as Mister Stimulus. A few weeks later the Obama crowd noticed that “stimulus,” like “bailout,” had become a cheap punch line, and decided the approved term was “recovery.” So Captain Recovery swung into action.
In fairness to Ant-Man, he got very small, and then he got big, and then he got small again, and then he got super-big, and for a while he was both small and big, in a superheroically bipartisan way. But Bailoutman started out as a huge staggering behemoth and has inflated from there. Once upon a time he was as a meek, mild-mannered trillionaire, but a mere five months later he was a meek, mild-mannered multi-trillionaire.
If you find it hard to keep track of these all these evolutions, the President in his address to Congress finally spilled the beans and unveiled our new hero in his final form: the Incredible Bulk, Statezilla, Governmentuan, a colossus bestriding the land like a, er, colossus. What superpowers does he have? All of them! He can save the economy, he can reform health care, he can prevent foreclosures, he can federalize daycare, he can cap the salary of his archenemies the sinister Fat Cats who “pad their pay checks and buy fancy drapes.” No longer will the citizenry cower in fear of fancy drapes: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! With one solar panel on the roof of his underground headquarters, Governmentuan can transform the American energy sector and power his amazing Governmentmobile, the new environmentally friendly supercar that soon we’ll all be driving because we’ll be given government car loans to buy the government cars! He’ll have hundreds of thousands of boy sidekicks, none of whom will ever be allowed to drop out of high school because (in the words of his famous catchphrase) “that’s no longer an option!” “Gee, thanks, Governmentuan!” says Diplomaboy the Boy Wonder, as he goes off to college to study Gender As A Social Construct until he’s 34.
And our hero can do this all without raising taxes on any family earning under $250,000!
Look — up in the sky: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a sudden eclipse plunging you and three adjoining states into total darkness? No, it’s the Incredible Bulk flailing through the air, fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. Well, actually, it’s more like the European way. But Americans will get used to it after a while.