By now you’ve probably all marveled at the physical dexterity of the Great Leader and Teacher, BO2, as he valiantly swatted down a malevolent fly in the middle of polishing his hagiography with a properly prostrate CNBC/New York Times reporter named John Harwood. It was an amazing feat of athleticism, as befits a second-string player on the Punahou basketball team, and one more example of the mythological status BHO II has achieved in a mere five months. Is there anything he can’t do, except maybe charm Benjamin Netanyahu out of Jerusalem?
Still, I’m a little nervous about this fly stuff because, as any reader of the Brothers Grimm knows, whenever flies show up in the story, trouble is sure to follow. It doesn’t take a Bruno Bettelheim or a Joseph Campbell (not that I’ve ever read either one of them) to see the omen here. First, Sonia Sotomayor breaks her ankle rushing to her Obama-commanded Supreme Court confirmation, and then Hillary Clinton breaks her elbow, probably on Bill’s jaw; the next thing you know, Obama himself will break the stock market, the housing market, the financial system, General Motors, the health-care system, the U.S. military, and the Republican party. Seven with one blow!
You all remember the Valiant Little Tailor, who swatted seven flies at once and went on to parlay that feat into a fearsome reputation as a man-killer. There he was, minding his own business, trying to finish his waffle, when the pesky creatures landed on his jam. Big mistake! PETA or no PETA, down they went. The Little Tailor was so proud of his feat that he fashioned a belt that read, “Yes, we can,” or something like that, and set off into the big wide world to seek his fortune. Along the way he outwitted a couple of giants named John and Joe, cowed the media into submission, captured a unicorn, and got elected president of the United States. And when the people finally figured out he was just a tailor and threatened to unhorse him, he teamed up with John Harwood and Brian Williams and shouted them all down until they went away.
The point is, in the ongoing fairy tale that is Hope and Change, we all love a happy ending: Even though the little tailor gets found out, it doesn’t matter. It’s way too late!
Still, there’s another, darker image that comes to my mind, and it’s from the 1976 film The Omen, in which Gregory Peck and Lee Remick bring their little bundle of joy home from the hospital in Rome and, whaddaya know, he turns out to be the spawn of Satan and a she-jackal. “Who is he? What does he want? Where did he come from? And can he be stopped?” asks the ominous voice-over on the trailer as little Damien wreaks havoc on his family. The little tyke is so powerful that he can make beautiful nannies hang themselves at his birthday party, and can scare off malevolent baboons with just a glance of his gimlet eye. But when he defenestrates poor Ms. Remick, Peck has had enough. He grabs the seven daggers of Megiddo from a bunch of crazy priests, throws Damien across a church altar, and makes ready to perform a late-term abortion on the little bugger when cooler heads prevail. The cops shoot Greg dead, and Damien survives to see the sequels.
Compounding the spookiness is Jerry Goldsmith’s Oscar-winning score, full of quasi-religious mumbo-jumbo and hocus pocus. (Did you know that “hocus pocus” is actually a blasphemous corruption of the Catholic Mass’s Hoc est corpus meum? The things you learn at the Little Red School House!) And the set pieces, including David Warner’s decapitation by a flying plate-glass window and a weird Irish priest getting impaled by a church spire that was hit by lightning, were state-of-the-art frightening back in the day. But it’s the Megiddo stuff that really puts the fear of Gaia into you . . .
Turns out that Megiddo is a real place, in modern Israel (who knew?), between Haifa and the Sea of Galilee, an ancient battlefield where the armies of pharaohs and kings and General Allenby and the Ottoman Empire clashed by night. It’s the place where East meets West, the border between Judeo-Christianity and Islam, and coincidentally — cue Jerry Goldsmith’s spooky music — it’s the place mentioned in Revelation as the site of the last great battle of the End Times: Armageddon. Pretty scary, huh, kids?
It’s probably totally coincidental that the Gifted One goes to Cairo and delivers one of his patented “You’re Okay, We Suck” speeches and all of a sudden Iran is in turmoil, North Korea is threatening to nuke the U.S., the dollar is worthless, John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer are starting to show their faces in public again, Barney Frank will undoubtedly be reelected, and Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang can’t find the plate. If these aren’t the End Times, I’d hate to be around when they finally show up.
Now this fly appears, conjuring up signs and portents, old legends and great horror movies that didn’t need to get remade. And, to top it all off, at least in my fevered imagination, there’s this Megiddo business just as we’re finally telling those annoying Israelis to stop adding new wings to the houses they stole from the Palestinians. “If this is the truth, where does it end?” asks the narrator at the end of the Omen trailer, and I have to say he’s got me stumped. In the meantime, I’m going to get some Doris Day movies from Netflix, eat a gallon of ice cream, and hope no flies show up.