Peter Pundit, who has appeared on more than 1,000 television news shows, sits in front of a mirror and combs his hair. He applies a bit of powder to his cheeks.
His specialty is war. When troops invade and bombs drop, he’s busy making trenchant comments on the news. These days, things are rather quiet.
He longs for the war that wasn’t. Syria.
A voice in Pundit’s head begins talking. He’s heard it before. It’s strong, too strong for television. But he likes it. He wishes he could use it in public.
The voice says:
You’re just a click away on your remote. Get the popcorn. It’s a blast. This one has moral stature. They used chemical weapons, so they’ll pay.
Welcome to the Syrian theater! All the players are assembled. Which one will intervene and turn a two-day blitz into a global conflagration?
We realize you don’t have whatever it takes to actually enlist in the Armed Forces and do six insane tours in Afghanistan building A-frames and wondering when one of those villagers will shoot you in the head. No problem. You can experience a very good simulacrum in your own mind. The anticipation. The adrenaline flow. The sweaty palms. Then the limbic thrust of revenge. Just watch the news.
Boom! You’re there. The attack is on! The sky over Damascus lights up! What unknown newsman, standing on a rooftop, narrating the unfolding scene, will emerge from the carnage with name recognition and a sudden career bump that makes his colleagues want to murder him in his sleep.
America is united again. Feel it. What took us so long to find each other once more? Post your experience on Facebook. Share your ecstasy with faux friends. Recite the Pledge of Allegiance against a hip-hop track and hope it goes viral.
This is the Show! This is what counts! Pretext? Invented provocation? False flag? Don’t bother me, I’m eating war!
If only we still had the Rat Pack around. Frank, Dean, Sammy, Lawford, and Joey Bishop. They could do a Sarin Night at the Desert Inn and wow the crowd with their support for the guys who launch the Tomahawks.
If your brother-in-law is over at the house as you watch the missile strike and he says, “You know, there’s no good proof Assad used poison gas,” poke him in the eye with a sizzling hot dog on a stick and yell, “USA! USA! USA!”
You might also try, “Obamacare! Immigration reform! Climate change! Carbon tax! NSA! Surveillance State! Gun control! Drone attacks!”
Who cares about Fast And Furious, the IRS nonprofit division, Benghazi? They’re in the rearview mirror and we’re accelerating down the superhighway.
Mind-controlled androids? Yup. This is who we are! Love it, live it, watch it, soak it in!
God bless Congress for giving Obama back Constitutional authority to kill the enemy of the terrorists we’re backing.
The voice in Pundit’s head fades out, and he’s left sitting in front of the mirror wishing for what might have been. He could have done “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation” on the same Sunday. He could have been the man with his prurient hand on the pulse of the nation.
He could have praised the President, the troops, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs for their perspicacity. He could have looked onto the camera with stony eyes, as if he were a warrior instead of a second-rate chess player in the Club at Yale so many years ago (when his fantasies went down the drain).
Perhaps he could have parlayed his Syrian TV stint into a diplomatic assignment abroad: London, Paris, where people still knew what intellect meant.
He could have spread tax dollars around for dinners with beautiful women. And then somewhere, in a dark hotel room, he could have heard one of those women whisper in his ear, “Peter Pundit, you’re a man. A lion.”
Oh, well. Perhaps it’s time to change the tune. He could develop a new specialty. The share-and-care agenda. We’re all in this together. Help the poor. With this in tow, he’d surely obtain some face time on television. No more stony gaze. Instead, a look of empathy. Sprinkle in pepper bits of outrage. Yes.
And he could still live in his nice house in the suburbs and really not care one whit about those who are suffering.
There’s always a payoff.