I used to associate with swamp creatures, without knowing they were swamp creatures, mostly because the term had not yet been coined, as it is used today to describe the Federal Government Fonctionnaires and Politicians who inhabit the Tidal Basin and the Beltway of the Nation’s Capital. By and large, those individuals were not really individuals; they were units of a group who desperately wanted to rub elbows with the Group: The Powerful, the Movers-and-Shakers who, in reality, were not moving and shaking much at all.
The Swamp exists solely to solidify its power, for its own benefit, all in the false and pretentious name of the Citizen. Double-speak is the language of this bureaucratic behemoth, a social clique that tries to thwart any change that would threaten its sense of power. That dominance over other people is much more a fickle mistress than a spouse of fidelity.
The dynamic of any social clique is a self-generating energy, one that eventually spins out of orbit, a self-absorbed orbit that is never really going anywhere. But all of that buzzzzzzz from non-busy bees, the drones of life, makes the sounds of going-places sound like a jet propulsion engine on a runway to . . . never-never-land.
The never-never-land is not always seen by the swamp creatures as not existing. Sometimes they believe their own lies, so intent are they on making that delusion of reality look real; it’s in their vested interests that their half-lies sound half-truthful. That delusion of reality is the “control” of things that people basically cannot control. In actuality, the swamp creatures are controlled by whatever it is they cannot control. Rarely is such an arrogant goal realized; it is not expected to be. “Owning the issue” is the name of the swamp-game. If the pie-in-the-sky goal is achieved, that attainment is brief, a fleeting moment in time, time that was squandered by the people chasing the mirage called:
security-for-everyone, a perfect and equitable society, a fair and just world, a super-deal-for-all, nirvana’s just around the corner, change and hope, hope and change, change through hope, hope through change.
Many people invest in the mirage, and those true believers cruelly pay for their investment. The hands that hold the dream that can never come true, they are the vicious hands of the charlatan. For you see, swamp creatures play the ugly parts in the destructive drama of using other people to meet their ends. And the end is always power.
Power is a commodity for the swamp creature, although true power cannot be bought or sold, but used, or generated, as a personal virtue, toward a greater good. If personal ability, acquiring money, and influence, and fame, collectively constitute the formula for power, then that formula can be easily faked, and it often is. Which is why a certain type of superficial person is always chasing the ever-elusive ways to acquire the always-illusory power.
Real power is the strength, fortitude, and courage to withstand the assaults of life, and to come out of that maelstrom with an inner core that is more steely than ever before. The inner core, however, must start out as solid, not squishy or permeable.
The swamp creature possesses, or has (because to possess is to act with force rather than passively accept) — a spongey center. He goes with the flow and does not fight against it, ever. Convincing himself (which is always an easy task) that he’s working with, and for the good of all, he connives toward the center of the group. He squats there, for a long enough time to accrue influence, money, position, advantage. He’s not stronger than the others in the group, merely better situated, at a vantage point, often due to intimidation or the silently threatening coercion of others whom he perceives as less strong than himself. Thus, the weak can dominate the strong in a group based on power, not on honed talent or proven ability.
The scent of desperation always fills this humid air of the Users and the Used. In a twisted sort of symmetry, each type needs the other within this soft squalor of slimy intentions. As the result of living in a wet environment, the swamp creature has duly earned his name. His existence depends on manipulating the weaker willed among him who react — to his benefit. The dynamics of the power-social group demand the submission of the individual to the Group. Their survival becomes dependent on His Survival. Many a despot and murderer have worked this scheme to near-perfection.
The spineless person is thus welcomed into Swamp-Land. Anyone with backbone, and grit, and spit, is a threat to the very existence of the Swamp. Ironically, a few courageous souls are necessary, once in a while, to keep the bog clean enough to operate with at least some efficiency. A temporary fix by the Doers in certain sections of Swampville is tolerated — for a while. The non-Doers then spread their flaccid muscle, a kind of smothering blob, to run the Doers out of town!
During the past few decades, that temporary fix in the D.C. Swamp got handed over to the non-Doers.
Grid-Lock became All-Gummed-Up!
It may be due to my allergy to molds, but I avoid dank, wet places like a vampire at dawn. My years in D.C. were marked by many sentiments and passions, but, overall, my search for a warm, dry place precluded all other activities! The District of Columbia was a small, provincial town back then, in the 1970s, but it had its professional bog-dwellers. I worked for them, among them, occasionally with them. I was a girl from a large family in a town of 1-square-mile in the little state of New Jersey. My attitudes and beliefs did not fit into the D.C. mode of life, that grasping quest to get more, always more, though “of what” was not always clear to me, or even to the person vying to get ahead by gaming and gaining and grabbing.
During my year as a sophomore at the George Washington University, I was also working as a personal researcher for a syndicated political columnist. That Christmas season, I was invited to an “A” list party hosted by Boss-Lady. That liberal columnist for Hearst Newspapers had known, in the Biblical sense, JFK. She’d even “been there”, as a reporter, on that fateful day in Dallas. She so very much wanted to introduce me to Georgetown society, the influential and fetid pool in which she swam, along with her live-in-arrangement, a big-wig writer for The New York Times.
I didn’t go to the posh affair in Foggy Bottom. I did not want to go, and I typically do not do what I do not want to do, unless compelled to (dental appointment, official legal business, and the like). This ingrained indulgence of my very strong will has caused problems in my life, but forcing myself to do what I stridently do not want to do, that coercive act has caused me even greater problems. I unwaveringly and willingly act out of a sense of duty with devotion and, at times, pleasure, but certain duty-calls are highly calibrated trade-offs for me!
I was not aware of the egregious gaffe that I was committing during that Secular Holiday Season. The Beltway Media have always been a godless group. The Sunday Televised News-Talk Shows were the Church, the Electronic Cathedral, that these politico-journalists attended, religiously, each Sunday morning. I find it comical that these pious-pompous-fest propaganda services are still so servilely held and attended and disseminated by the minuscule and ever-shrinking political elites.
I still do not watch those pro-government performances; and I did not watch them back then, even though one of my tasks was to cut-and-tape newspaper clippings of the text-and-photos of Boss Lady and her Network TV appearances into her career-scrapbook. I dutifully carried out that monotonous Monday grind, the day after the news-pinion show I did not watch. (The lust was intense among print-journalists aiming to go the tv-route to electronic news.)
Acquaintances, those young adults working and worming and bartering their way into Pre-Swamp D.C., informed me of my appalling absence of mind in not taking full, complete and avaricious advantage of this party “favor” being offered to me.
I did not at all interpret that Invite as a favor. The middle-aged woman for whom I worked had already cribbed a lot of my “research notes” to use in her newspaper columns, and copied my hair-style, even my style of dress, which, I gotta tell you, was not all stitches from Britches, the store on Wisconsin Avenue. At that swank Georgetown clothing retailer, I afforded all of 2 pairs of wool pants, one herringbone, one Glen plaid - and those tailored trousers served me for YEARS. Ms. Columnist was as kind to me as someone of her cold nature could have been; she even brought me a crock of pâté from that Party, all ribboned-up, on the Monday after-the-event.
I knew that I was being taken under her wintry wing, and she was sincere in her attempts to show me the ropes of how to climb that ladder she’d ascended, swiftly. I went with her to the most up-scale and in-vogue restaurants in D.C., and dined with U.S. Senators and a Presidential hopeful or two. Instead of being impressed, I was appalled. The entire scene floated on martinis and gossip. There was very little substance and even less style.
From time to time, I did peruse the Style Section of The Washington Post because, as I informed my fellow J-students who were slavishly fixated on one day working there, that was the only page with at least an attempt at style. The problem for my highly-placed media-mentor was that, as a result of my having worked only three months for her and for Hearst Newspapers, Inc., I didn’t want to climb that ladder she was prepping for me. In fact, I was getting off that ladder, for good.
It seems to me that when an adult-working-waif-orphan is about to be adopted by Professional-Parent-Boss, she, the foundling, ought to have some say about who founds her. My unspoken belief in my own belief in my self was very much at variance with this erstwhile Adoptive-Executive, one who had not borne a child, and never would.
Looking back, I wonder if Media-Momma was so keen on helping me onto that ladder to quick success because it would have helped her to keep from falling off that same ladder. She’d long ago fallen off the wagon, and she was clinging precariously to remnants of a world that was sliding away from her. Her world of D.C. politics had changed — in an instant — during that tragic motorcade ride in Dallas, Texas. Decades of gin and bitterness would ensue for this gal of the press who’d traded in writing talent for a grab at a brass ring that rapidly tarnished on her.
My geiger-counter to detect Users got very keenly developed during my years in the D.C. professional pond. It is never a good feeling to become aware that you are being ripped off by the people underpaying you for the privilege of working for them, regardless of the job, industry, profession, or métier. After one year of working for this syndicated political columnist, I told her that I was leaving for another job (a higher-paying one as a soda fountain cashier, but that part of my farewell I kept to myself).
Boss-Lady did not take it well. She took my professional decision very personally. It formed a rejection of her, a rebuff of all of the skids she was going to grease for me . . . on her terms. She insisted on setting me up with a job at a major Boston newspaper, or one in another city, anywhere, to keep me working at Hearst Newspapers. I found her lack of dignity to be humiliating, for her, and I beat a faster retreat than I’d planned from that office filled with smug press-hypocrites.
Journalists and press politicos in the Sacramento, California foggy-river brume would later inform me that I’d blown it, big-time, there in D.C., their Mecca. By that time, I was certain that I’d escaped an immensely wasted effort that was going nowhere that I wanted to go. Not long after my flight from D.C. to the West, the Swamp Creatures began to dominate that rather small “southern” city.
During my time there, “K” Street was known less for trade-association temples than for hair salons, NYC-based clothing retailers, and eateries, such as the Greek Souvlaki House and McDonalds. My daily walk to work at the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., my last job, of many, in D.C. was a nice, quiet morning stroll through Lafayette Park, a place that was known for squirrels, not squirrelly anarchists.
A decade after Reagan began his clearing out of the Cold War fossils, the Lobbyists and Globalists infested that town and turned it into an ugly metropolis. The most recent fossils of the D.C. Swamp are certainly not the Lernaean Hydra, that serpentine water monster so alive in Greek and Roman mythology. This godless government Godzilla has a bizarre means of taking on new cadaverous non-life forms as museum artifacts. These dinosaurs have, collectively, been dubbed the Swamp. The labors of Hercules are now required to slay the monolithic monstrosity!
In Sacramento, California, I knew many people who were not Swamp Creatures, but Wanna-Be-Swamp Creatures. Their empty shells were most odiferous as they pantingly strove to fill those hollow selves with “power” on their path toward never-never-land. Such VIPs, big-shots and show-offs, all caught-up in the ellipses of their own egos, didn’t have time for the little people, like me. I had even less time for their petty minds, tin hearts and venal souls.
Those who live for the thrill of power, they can never know the splendour of the crépuscule aubade on a rose in full bloom; the tender love that entreats only silence in the glow of the moon; the passion of a horse running free in the wild; the cry of a child in the dark of night to tell her mother she’s safe and all right; a butterfly seeking succor from the summer lavender spike; the glimmer of daybreak at the river’s bend; the sweet surrender of a heartbeat to embrace the beloved without end.
Those sacred realities I’d sought in that town without pity on the Potomac, but I found them, unexpectedly, in the West.
I’m a purist at heart. Given the choice between the Pretender-Swamp Thing, and the Real Thing, I’ll take the Real Thing any day. Just don’t invite me to attend a party where Swamp-Vamp slinks around in a shimmering cocktail dress, claiming to have listened to Schubert and read Balzac and recited Shakespeare!