They’re out there. After “Call me Ishmael,” perhaps the greatest opening sentence to an American novel, ever. The saga of McMurphy, the not-quite-sane man in an nuthouse full of lunatics, as told by Chief Broom — the lone sane inmate, who just pretends he’s crazy — is one of the underrated classics of American literature, a book so brilliantly conceived and perfectly executed that it makes the reader shake his head in wonder.
We’ve all seen the movie, of course, the 1975 Milos Forman film that made Jack Nicholson a star, and we know how Black Jack’s one-man war against the State — in the form of the evil Nurse Ratched — ends (see above). Here’s how the Chief describes McMurphy’s neutering in the book:
Put on those things like headphones, crown of silver thorns over the graphite at his temples. They try to hush his singing with a piece of rubber hose for him to bite on.
“‘Mage with thoothing lan-o-lin.’”
Twist some dials, and the machine trembles, two robot arms pick up soldering irons and hunch down on him. He gives me the wink and speaks to me, muffled, tells me something, says something to me around that rubber hose just as those irons get close enough to the silver on his temples — light arcs across, stiffens him, bridges him up off the table till nothing is down but his wrists and ankles and out around that crimped black rubber hose a sound like hooeee! and he’s frosted over completely with sparks.
And out the window the sparrows drop smoking off the wire.
After yesterday’s “budget-crisis” sellout, the sparrows falling off the wire are us; the Surrender Caucus in Congress has seen to that, voluntarily subjecting themselves to the same Obamacare treatment that McMurphy fought so gallantly against. How else to interpret this gloat from Big Nurse himself, Chuck Schumer?
“I’ve talked to Mitch about this — I think the whole Republican Senate is different now,” Schumer said on Morning Joe on Thursday. “I don’t think Ted Cruz will recover so quickly. . . . I think the Tea Party and Ted Cruz have peaked.”
The New York Democrat said the tea-party members have now alienated their Republican colleagues as well as the general public after the shutdown. “I think you’re going to see a more mainstream, conservative Republican party,” he added.
I bet we will. More right after the page break.