A number of blind Republicans met for lunch to discuss quid pro quos and whether or not they could identify the elephant in the room. They’d often heard of an elephant in the room, and on occasion used the expression themselves, even though they’d never seen an elephant in the room. They’d also used more than frequently the Latin phrase quid pro quo, though they never truly understood it.
So they met for lunch one day, with an elephant in the room, to put out feelers, so to speak, and to determine a clear strategy to deal with their predicament. The first blind Republican, a senator from Louisiana, put his hand on the elephant’s side, pushed, and declared, “Ah, I see,” said he, “the elephant is very like a wall.” He paused for a moment. “I wonder if the Mexicans will pay for it.” The other senators chuckled. “I mean,” the senator continued, “that the president should establish an immovable wall barricading the White House and simply declare that there is nothing amiss with quid pro quos, especially in regards to the Ukraine.” Countries routinely ask, he indicated, something for something. Asking for an investigation by a foreign government of one’s political opponent—and the location of the DNC server—while withholding a promised $391 million in military aid to fight against a lethal invasion by Russia is neither wrong nor unusual. “It’s about intent and motive,” the senator said. “What was the president’s state of mind? Culpable? Based on the evidence up to this point,” he declared, “the president’s state of mind wasn’t culpable.” Can an amoral narcissist, one might ask, ever feel culpability for anything?
A second blind Republican, a senator from Texas, reached out and touched the tip of a tusk. “Ah,” he said, “I see that the elephant is like a spear, yet another tool in the tool bag of conducting foreign policy, used to pierce corruption in foreign nations. For it to be corruption on the part of the spear thrower, however, well, he’d have to have corrupt intent. Which, as we all know, our president, in his unmatched wisdom, would never have.”
A third blind Republican, from North Carolina, approached the elephant in the room and grasped its trunk. “Sorry mates,” he said, “but this elephant is like a snake. Anybody who knows anything would conclude that.” He turned to the senator from Texas and said, “Of all the Republicans here, I’m more than surprised that you wouldn’t recognize that.” The others chortled and nodded in agreement. “There was no quid pro quo. Admitting there was when there wasn’t just isn’t accurate.” The others barely suppressed their snickering.
The fourth Republican, from Maine where blindness seems endemic (how else to explain LePage), approached the elephant and shyly touched a leg. “Why,” she said, “I see that you are all wrong. The elephant is very like a tree.” She hugged the leg desperately, repeating that she would remain strong and not yet judge the president because she could well be one of his jurors. “I shall remain steadfast like this tree,” she said, “until I figure out from whence the wind blows.” She heard the rustle of leaves from an actual tree outside an open window, but couldn’t tell the direction from whence the wind came. She felt her anxiety increase. She was up for re-election in 2020 and had grown impatient with the times’ swirling winds.
A fifth, rather tall, blind Republican from North Dakota stood and reached for the elephant, and seized upon an ear. “Oh, how silly all of you are,” he said. “Don’t you know that an elephant is like a big fan. Republicans can’t,” he went on, “hope for a quick resolution to this problem. Drawing out the process, fanning the flames so that the public can see the president’s side of the story, even though we can’t, is what’s needed. There’s lots of quid pro quos,” he said, echoing the first Republican’s thoughts. “So what? Was this one corrupt is the question.”
A sixth Republican, from Wisconsin, and very blind indeed, had considerable trouble locating the elephant in the room. Finally, he latched onto its tail and announced how foolish all his fellows were. “The elephant,” he declared, “is not like a wall, or a spear, or a snake, or, for heaven’s sake, like a tree. Sheesh,” he said, wiping his brow, “how did any of you get elected? And a fan? Good lord! Get some a.c. if you’re too warm.” Still holding the tail, he said, “It should be obvious to you all the elephant is like a rope.” Immediately, he winced at the word rope, realizing the danger of hanging himself—again. “The president is concerned about corruption, and that’s a legitimate reservation in bestowing aid to Ukraine, even though I told the Wall Street Journal otherwise.” He choked a bit at that and checked to see that the “rope” was still in his hand and not around his neck.
With that, the elephant in the room decided never to leave. Tired, he rolled to his side, inadvertently crushing those in the room. He was comfortable among Republicans (or on top of them), whether they could see or not. He was, after all, their party’s national symbol. More so than they, he knew that just because one can see doesn’t mean one isn’t blind.
Based on the poem The Blind Men and the Elephant and a prose version of the same name.
Image of Blind Men and Elephant (Public Domain) from Sophie Woods, World Stories for Children, Ainsworth & Co. (Chicago), p. 14 (illustrator unknown).
Photo of elephant’s tail: Tanel Teemusk from Estonia; used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.