Peabody and the Street Sweeper

Kurt Schreiber

When I was a kid, I used to watch The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. I also watched reruns as a teenager and have caught episodes throughout my “adult” life. They always produced guffaws and serious face cramping grins! One of the show’s regular features was entitled, “Peabody’s Improbable History”. The lead-in credits always depicted a parade coming through town announcing the Peabody segment.

First there came mounted knights in armor carrying lances. Then came Robin Hood styled archers, marching abreast. Next, came an Egyptian queen borne on a litter by slaves. Next came African natives with shields and spears, followed by an elephant and then by Roman infantry. Next, came Peabody and Sherman riding in a horse-drawn chariot followed by dancing girls throwing flower pedals and lastly, the street sweeper pushing a broom cleaning up the mess.

Last night, I was lying in a semi-comatose caffeine propelled slumber and had a dream of that parade sequence. It reminded me of the day’s preceding events. One must remember, I had faithfully watched ALL of the White House and Pentagon press conferences regarding the Afghanistan retreat and quite a bit of the news channels’ commentary on said conferences.

It occurred to me that in America we have the Commander in Chief of BS, the Secretary of BS, the Undersecretary of BS, the Assistant Undersecretary of BS, the Assistant Undersecretary’s Spokesman of BS and various unelected bureaucratic minions associated with (but not limited to) the spreading of National BS. First the Commander in Chief of BS spreads his layer. Then, sometimes within the same hour, the Secretary of BS makes an appearance and pushes his layer of BS around evenly while at the same time contradicting the Commander in Chief…and nobody even blinks or holds their nose.

Next, the Undersecretary emerges from that air-conditioned bunker with multiple layers of air filtration and proclaims his or her own “flavor of the day” BS, making sure his or her own coating of warm fresh BS is evenly applied across the room to every corner, leaving no gaps for a refreshing breeze to intrude, while at the same time contradicting both of the previous attempts at covering the public with manure. Then of course, the Assistant Undersecretary of BS struts onto the stage and issues the latest and greatest, up to the minute version of BS that contradicts every one of the previously presented “facts”, thus completely burying the fundamental questions in layers of stinking steaming goo that will take weeks, if not years, to move aside.

Meanwhile, the news commentators along with the rest of the concerned public sit around and scratch their collective head, wondering what just happened and what they were actually saying.

The bureaucracy’s job is done.

Then the lowly street sweeper, pushing his cart with shovel and broom, looks straight into the camera, he twitches his moustache from side-to-side and cleans up the crap that has been so liberally spread across the fruited plain.

I once heard, If it looks like BS and it smells like BS and you think you need to scrape it off your shoe before going into the house, it isis BS.

It turns out, the lowly street sweeper is the only one not in the political hierarchy who really knows what BS is, what it smells like and who is doing the shoveling.

He shakes his head and continues sweeping onward, happy in the knowledge he will always have a job because the BS is never ending and always easy to find.

P.S. The Rocky show also had another regular feature entitled, “Fractured Fairytales”. There are strong parallels with current events and that segment as well; however, those are analogies best left to another day.

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