Much of the Middle East is paralyzed by sectarian strife, up to and including a great deal of violence, between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. If this is their idea of religious and spiritual activity, please Allah, send down several cases of tranquilizers to calm their nerves.
Here at home, Democrats and Republicans, especially those who have overdosed on tannic acid at too many tea parties, approach political activity as combat, an effort to strike the deadly blow. No physical violence, but the political effect is almost as bad in its inability or unwillingness to create and operate a functioning government.
Apparently feeling left out of all the excitement, bored with the unexciting work of constructively addressing real public issues of a real community, the East Washington Borough Council has taken on the same bizarre complexion. It seems to have carried polarization as far as it can go in a small group responsible for conducting the public business of a small governmental unit.
As if by request, Stephen Sondheim wrote a well-known lyric that captures the mood of this unhappy spectacle. For his 1973 musical “A Little Night Music,” part of one song says:
“Send in the clowns,
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns,
Don’t bother. They’re here.”