The Impervious Wizard sat in the Cat Bird Seat in the Egg Shaped Room of the Great White House in the Forbidden City of the District of Columbia. The Great White House had recently been painted over to fit the times and the Cat Bird Seat was geared to a throne of ropes. Each rope tied to a constituency. The Impervious Wizard would pull a rope and his democracy of Big Time Backers would arrive in groups. Or the Big Time Backers would pull a rope and the Impervious Wizard would stand up and salute. The Impervious Wizard would often go to the Big Time Backers dinners and tell them they were his constituency. The Big Time Backers applauded the Impervious Wizard and told him that being his constituency suited them just fine.
Whenever the Impervious Wizard talked to the Munchkins, the other constituency, he would often appear in a stock blue demim shirt, with his sleeves rolled up. He impressed the Munchkins with his hard working image and told them what they wanted to hear - no more, no less. We are all in this together, he'd say, and there is a power in the universe larger than ourselves that guides our destiny. That power is on Our Side.
The Munchkins believed the Impervious Wizard. Wasn't it true that the Good Lord Above had pulled the Impervious Wizard out of the weeds, like Moses, and sent him on a crusade to make the world safe for democracy? And who could speak to the Good Lord Above better than the Impervious Wizard, one of our own? For the Munchkins had elected the Impervious Wizard to the Cat Bird Seat, and the Impervious Wizard, in return, put tears in their eyes,. The Munchkins had become one with the Impervious Wizard, and the Impervious Wizard had become one with the Good Lord Above.
When Dorothy and her three friends arrived at the Cat Bird Seat in the Egg Shaped Room of the Great White House in the Forbidden City of the District of Columbia, the Impervious Wizard gave them a private audience. He told them they had to stop running around the yellow brick road spreading leeks. Besides the yellow brick road was no longer yellow, he said, learn how to skip on the red, white and blue one. They capitulated.
The Impervious Wizard was pleased. He gave the Cowardly Lion permission to roar behind closed doors with impunity. The Cowardly Lion became a master of remaining unseen behind closed doors, even unto himself. Working his way behind the throne pulling the ropes like Quisimodo, his job was to insure that the Project for the New American Millennium would last at least a hundred years. Even a thousand, a fourth Reich.
Whenever the Impervious Wizard appeared on the Great Gargoyle with One Eye, the Cowardly Lion stood beside him, wearing a weak smile and a sneer. He knew he was the Man behind the Catbird Seat, and he didn't care what anyone thought. When the Cowardly Lion told the Media to go to Hell, the Media ducked behind their ads and conveniently forgot about it. The Media were already in Hell, and they didn't need the Cowardly Lion to tell them how to get there. For they knew where their bread was buttered.
When the Tin Man arrived in the Egg Shaped Room of the Great White House in the Forbidden City of the District of Columbia, he froze, as usual. The Impervious Wizard took pity on the Tin Man. He asked the Cowardly Lion to squirt oil into his rusted parts. Since there was no oil around in the Egg Shaped Room of the White House in the Forbidden City of the District of Columbia, the Cowardly Lion brought in a can of high grade oil that he kept in his refrigerator. It was a gift that a Big Time Backer had given to him for a discount. When the Cowardly Lion squirted the oil into the Tin Man, the Tin Man smiled with clean white teeth, and broke into a grin of Shock and Awe. Prophetic of things to come.
The Impervious Wizard told the Tin Man that he had an important job for him. Put your smile to good use in the name of Democracy, he said, and you will always be in my favor. Go into the Desert of Hussein with tanks, smile with Shock and Awe, calculate the Collateral Damage, and tell the Muchkins that we are welcome in the Desert of Hussein with open arms. By the way, if you find any weapons of mass destruction, let me know. We sure could use them.
The Tin Man enlisted the National Guard of the Munchkins to find the Saddam of Hussein. And on the way to victory he also found the oil that the Big Time Backers hankered for. When the Crazies blew themselves up, and blew apart the Tin Cans on Wheels that the Tin Man had sent into the Desert of Hussein with high expectations, the body count rose. It was more than the Tin Man had bargained for. Nontheless he brandished his sword of righteousness like a true musketeer. All for One and One for All, he said, let's get on with it. He went on with it until he covered the Great White House in the Forbidden City of the District of Columbia with Red Poppies. Such is the nature of the Righteous that they know no bounds.
When the Straw Man arrived at in the Egg Shaped Room of the Great White House in the Forbidden City of the District of Columbia, the Impervious Wizard pulled the straw right out of him. The Straw Man collapsed to the floor totally dismantled. He was nothing but an old beat up hat, a plaid shirt and a pair of cordoroys. The Impervious Wizard lifted the Straw Man up and saddled him with a white shirt, tie and a suit that fitted him to a T. He then blew the breath of life into the Straw Man, who morphed into a fat, hospitable Architect, the Impervious Wizard's most trusted advisor. The Architect roused the Muchkins to the heights of applause for the Impervious Wizard at a level previously unknown. They applauded the Impervious Wizard, waved red, white and blue flags, and punched out hanging chads on voting machines. Why bother counting ballots, the Architect said, when it was all being done for us?
The Big Time Backers were amazed about how quickly the Architect had got it done. He was a real find. They had bet their bottom dollar that he could do the job, and he did. The Architect remained hidden from sight, except when he was seen in public standing behind the Impervious Wizard, waiting to deliver his next cue. The Architect's Cue became his highest achievement. He wore it on his sleeve like a medal of honor. Until the day he swam into the great wash in Washington for a more lucrative assignment, like a fish in financial water.
The Impervious Wizard was most proud of Dorothy. Dorothy no longer skipped about the yellow brick road like a child. She was now all grown up. She dressed like a well mannered executive, wore her hair in a flip, and played classical music like a charm. Above all else she was intelligent, which more than made up for what the impervious Wizard lacked. For Dorothy had the ability to read the Impervious Wizard's mind, when it was there, and when there wasn't one available, she would speak for him. Dorothy got to the point of calling the Impervious Wizard her husband. There was but one caveat. Another woman served as the Impervious Wizard's wife, so Dorothy dropped the idea. Eternally grateful for her unwavering trust in him, the Impervious Wizard invited Dorothy out to his ranch. Where she barbequed with the Impervious Wizard and his wife to her heart's content, and learned how to ride horses to wherever they may lead her.
The Architect now went into high gear. He shape shifted the Impervious Wizard into a snake and oil act on the Great Gargoyle with One Eye, where he delivered cheerful messages to the Munchkins, like it was just another day in Disneyland. Political experts debated right and left about who was right and who was wrong about the Impervious Wizard's actions, or lack there of. Smiling at one another, like they were the best of friends, we might disagree, they said, but we are all in this together. Give thanks, and let us go our separate ways to the bank, after the show is over. Which they did in no uncertain terms.
The biggest spectacle of all were the Muchkins weeping in public about all the terrible things they had done to each other. Guided by preachers and other marauders of the airways, they wept, spilled their beans, and asked for forgiveness. Many of them prepared for the Second Coming of Whoever Might Appear Next. For they knew, come Judgement Day, they could switch channels and watch the unbelievers burn in Hell.
Then one day a big wind and a flood ravaged the Big Easy. When the levees broke, the Muchkins were shocked. Disaster had been forseen but hardly prepared for. The world of the Muchkins turned upside down. They saw the black people, the white people, and the in-between people swimming in the toxic muck. And they were pissed. Where are the Big Time Government Agencies they shouted, what are we paying them for? Who can survive this muck without help from a government that knows what its like to be stuck in the mud? And then a remarkable event happened:
Agitated by the noise in the Egg Shaped Room of the Great White House in the Forbidden City of the District of Columbia, Toto, Dorothy's beloved puppy, pulled one of the ropes behind the Cat Bird Seat. It collapsed. Buzzers went off, sirens shrieked, and a cacophony of bells and whistles announced: Red Alert! The loudest noise of all was Toto's incessant bark. Scared out of his wits over what he had done, Toto stood in one place spinning in circles with his ears flapping like windmills gone astray. He knew he had done wrong but didn't know what to do about it. Toto was at his wit's end when the door to the Egg Shaped Room burst open. Droves of agents from agencies galore in the Forbidden City burst in. Hidden cameras showed tapes of Toto spinning in circles and agents pointing fire arms at the wee beastie. Lock Toto up, and throw him into a kennel, they shouted. Waterboard the bastard! But say ho, where is the Impervious Wizard?
The Impervious Wizard had risen over the Egg Shaped Room of the Great White House in the Forbidden City of the District of Columbia in a hot air balloon. He was on his way home for a vacation and the delights of riding horses to his heart's content. When he heard about the devastation in the Big Easy, he switched gears, and headed out over the Big Easy for a look see. Sure enough the levees had collapsed. The black and white and in-between citizens of the Big Easy were crying for help. Oh my, oh my, he thought unto himself, is this the apocalypse that the Prophets of the Good Lord Above predicted? Where are the official Cherry Pickers from the government agencies? None of his aides knew what to do or say. The Architect then whispered into the Impervious Wizard's ear: Go down below, walk among the Munchkins, hug them to their heart's content, and reassure them that help is on its way.
The Impervious Wizard did just that. He saddled up in his blue denim shirt, went down below and walked on water, hugging every Munchkin in sight. For he knew that only the polls could tell the effect his good will tour might do to his numbers. And since he had declared that he had no interest in numbers or polls, he knew that time would tell. And Time did tell, with telling effect:
Suddenly the housing market collapsed, homes flip flopped, stock market numbers went down the drain, and the Great Bail Out began with a how do you do. The real estate dealers collided with the banks, and the banks collided with the credit agencies, and the credit agencies ruled out the home owners, and that's when the Big Time Backers wheeled in to take command. While the Munckins robbed piggy banks, stored food in the basement, sent their children out to find work, and even thought of gardening together to keep their heads above water. While the Media chatted on into that good night with good cheer, rock bottom became the Order of the Day.
Then the Paulson Crew appeared like magic, splashing their oars all the way up the Potomac to meet with the Congress of Yea Sayers and Nay Sayers, to rescue the Almighty Dollar with one big fell swoop. While the Munchkins stood on the shore, counting dollars on their fingers and toes, and wondering where they stood. On the roof tops? Or in the Big Muddy?
There must be some way out of this, the Impervious Wizard declared . Wipe the slate clean, the Big Time Backers demanded. And he did. He pulled the putty, the bailing wire, the strings of cue sheets and hanging chads, from out of shirt like spaghetti. Then he opened up the top of his head full of breakfast cereal, scooped out his pudding of ideas, and cut the long wire dangling behind his ear with the Architect's voice sputtering cues. And that comforted him. Then he repeated his mantra: "God Bless America, Stay the Course, Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition, We are still One Nation Under God". The War is Won.
And then with a sigh and a Heigh Ho Silver, the Impervious Wizard lifted off side saddle in his helicopter, like the Lone Ranger, and flew to his ranch in the great state of Texas to apple-polish his sorely burnt ego. While Dorothy played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with Toto yelping on her lap. The time will come, he said onto himself, when my Big Time Backers will build a billion dollar Museum of the Impervious Wizard in my name. Brick by gold brick, mortage prepaid. For history repeats itself, it always does. And I shall be vindicated. Then he sat down with a barbeque and a beer, lifted a fork into his mouth, and swallowed the meat with a belch and a hullabaloo.
Cover Image - Steve Brodner
© Harper's Magazine