Although Hannah Montana vs. the Calgary Stampede sounds like the billing for a WWF championship, it is merely the two currently brightest stars in our heady, instant gratification Universe — Miley Cyrus and Ted Cruz — vying for the spotlight, proving, at least in her case, that no publicity is bad publicity. Perhaps she wins the day largely because her career decisions loudly hitting rock bottom don’t threaten the rest of the country with fiscal collapse.
When Cyrus shook her posterior at the MTV VMA awards, the clueless gasp from baby boomers was reminiscent of their blue-haired grandparents’ outrage at Jim Morrison’s faulty belt buckle, “Oh, the horror.” The Canadian-born, Harvard-educated poster boy for “A Mind is a Terrible thing to Waste,” Cruz elicits gasps from his GOP cohorts with a single-minded, narcissistic focus on a presumed 2016 presidential run at the expense of everyone else in the party. His ego makes Chris Christie seem like a Buddhist monk.
While Miley is twerking and Ted is tweaking, both seem on the road to self destruction, if not self delusion. Somewhere Andy Warhol is smiling. Although neither Cyrus or Cruz was obscure to begin with, her boundary-stretching performance in August and his scorched earth freshman year have increased their visibility to the point of an absurdist omnipresence. When was the last time you opened a newspaper, checked out a website or had an office conversation where one or the other didn’t pop up?
While he’s targeting the Affordable Care Act and Barack Obama, Cruz’s attacks have focused most of the attention on him rather than the issues. He took the Senate floor for 21 hours, reading — and misinterpreting — “Green Eggs and Ham,” while achieving nothing beyond the spotlight. The end result is a Republican party in the nadir of polling numbers, the bulk of their concentration going toward how to remain in office rather than governing the country.
Abandoning her good-girl image, Cyrus writhed her way into America’s consciousness with most of her clothes off, a giant foam finger lasciviously fondling anything within reach and a tongue that appeared to have been borrowed from Gene Simmons of KISS. Cyrus has a new song and video called “Wrecking Ball.” Cruz is singing the same old tune, content to be a wrecking ball,
Both live inside distinct bubbles, through which no contradictory information can penetrate. She claims to be the “deepest” person she knows and said that she’d not “really seen one bad comment about my twerk video.” He suggested recently that if the GOP was serious about stopping Obamacare, “We’ll destroy the entire planet” and that he and his colleagues had been “working on (this approach) for quite some time.”
Cruz recently barnstormed with perhaps the one person in the universe more opportunistic and self serving than himself, joining Sarah Palin at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., protesting its closure via the government shutdown, which they both vigorously supported. He demonstrated no patience for irony, chastising the president for “politicizing” the memorial, which he and dunderhead Barbie were busy politicizing.
Cyrus, meanwhile, was busy spoofing herself as well as the government shutdown on “Saturday Night Live” with a grinding, R-rated Michelle Bachmann atop John Boehner in a skit almost as offensive as the real Bachmann.
In the several weeks since their trajectories have intersected, Cyrus has acquired a number of high profile supporters, happy to point out our puritanical contradictions regarding sexuality for women while men behaving badly still get a “boys will be boys” pass. She also appears to be enjoying the ride immensely, not to mention making a ton of money.
As the shutdown entered its third week and debt limit talks came down to the wire, Cruz had become one of the most hated men in Washington, especially among Republicans. That’s no small feat, considering the beltway mood in recent weeks. His apparent last-minute capitulation as a deal was struck trivialized the efforts of anyone acting in good faith over the last month.
While her star continues to rise, his appears to be fading, in all but the areas of the country that comprise the GOP base, where Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” is alive and well. The truly unfortunate thing for the rest of the country is that, so far, this seems to be quite enough to maintain the chaos Cruz and company so enthusiastically embrace.
Walt Amses is a former educator and writer from North Calais.
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