Merkwürdigeliebe, Before He Changed It
The Democrats’ Strange Love that dares not speak its name


So here I am, holed up in Maerose Prizzi’s palatial pad in Pacific Heights, reliving the last scene of Paul Muni’s second-greatest film and loving every minute of it. I’ve always wanted to be a supporting player in somebody else’s movie, especially if they come to a bad end and I survive to star in the sequel: Scarface II.5: This Time It’s Personal, If You Don’t Count the Al Pacino Remake.

“Feed me, Mandrake, feed me!” screamed Maerose, and I noticed that her face was melting in the heat from her Uzi as she fired out the window at the assorted cops, G-Men, ICE agents, Mexican drug lords, Somali pirates, Yemeni-American bomb-makers, ACLU lawyers, and Tea Party savages, plus some members of what’s left of her Democratic congressional caucus who had gathered outside her bedroom window. Not for the first time, I marveled at her uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson: the later years.

“Wrong movie!” I shouted over the incoming fire. “That was a picture about a hapless American president who couldn’t control his generals, who let the Soviets penetrate the War Room in the interests of fairness, and who had no idea what to do when ‘King’ Kong went rogue and took the voice of CNN and the rest of the planet down with him. That was Dr. Strangelove.”

Merkwürdigeliebe, you mean!” she shouted, catching the clip I tossed her. Yes, I know you wingnuts who actually know something about guns insist we call it a “magazine,” but to us stalwart men and women of the Left, “magazine” means The New Yorker, Newsweek, The Nation, and Granta, not ammo.

“Whatever,” I replied over the din. “This is my rewrite of the last scene of the original Scarface, with Tony Camonte hammering away at the forces of the law, while his beautiful sister, Cesca, reloads his smoking Tommy gun with her red-hot — ”

“Come out with your hands up,” came a voice from below that sounded very much like John Boehner’s. “We’ve got you surrounded.”

“You’ll never take me alive, dirty coppers!” shouted a defiant Maerose, firing down into the street with the erotic abandon that we’ve all come to love about her. No matter how many parking-garage scandals and statutory-rape beefs are in her family’s past, I found myself falling in love with her all over again, as any true Democrat would. They don’t call us a criminal organization masquerading as a political party for nothing!

How had it all slipped away so suddenly? Just two short years ago, the world was ours. Our Chitown mobsters, led by Jake Lingle and the Ballerina, had finally realized the dream of generations of their gangster forebears, and had seized not only a city (Chicago) and a state (Illinois) but an entire country (Amerikkka). Using the media as both a shield and a sword, they clubbed the citizenry to the ground while chanting Hopenchange, scared the bejesus out of terrified New Yorkers when Air Force One dive-bombed lower Manhattan, destroyed the economy of the Gulf Coast as payback for voting for John McCain, and rammed through the stimulus bill that put so many denizens of Hooverville to work making those signs that celebrated the stimulus bill. And then health-care reform fell off the back of a truck!

And now the ungrateful bastards were screaming for our scalps. Only one man could save us, the Big Fella himself. But where was he?

Bullets whizzed past our heads and shattered a couple of Ming vases, punctured a Frank Stella painting, and lodged in the side of the Bösendorfer, but Maerose just laughed off the destruction. “I can’t play the piano anyway!” she sneered as she reached for the Chinese-made AK-47 she kept for special occasions like this.

At that moment, her super-top-secret cell phone rang. “Ms. Prizzi’s residence, Ms. Prizzi’s secretary a-speaking,” answered her man Angelo in a stage-Italian accent. “State-a your business.” He looked confused for a moment, then scared as he handed Maerose the next-generation iPhone — you know, the kind whose GPS discovers ballots in Bridgeport and loses the paperwork necessary to seat new Illinois senator Mark Kirk in a timely manner.

Maerose never blinked nor batted an eye as she listened; in fact, her face seemed strangely frozen. “Yes, boss,” she said. “No, boss. You betcha, boss.”

She ended the call, then turned to me: “It’s over, Dave,” she said. “We’re going out with our heads held high, to fight again another day.”