By Don Nelson
What follows is an entirely imagined dispatch from a Washington, D.C., correspondent. Any resemblance to actual events is intentional.
On a recent visit to Washington, D.C., I came across a little-publicized but, thanks to word of mouth, increasingly popular attraction not far from the Capitol building.
It’s called the Senatorial Spinal Repository, where the unused backbones of Senate Republicans are collected and displayed. What began as a rather small exhibition has nearly outgrown its original space and may need to expand soon, a helpful tour guide explained.
“There’s no shortage of Senate Republican spines for our little museum,” the guide enthused. “They are available for the asking, and we’ve got some splendid specimens.”
The repository is most proud of, and displays prominently, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s vertebrae. “He gave it up years ago,” the tour guide said, “setting a powerful example for other Senate Republicans. They’re falling all over themselves to be part of this. Of course, without backbones, they fall down a lot anyway. It helps with the groveling, actually.”
I asked if it wasn’t a bit unseemly to put the desiccated spines of elected officials on display like ancient dinosaur bones.
“They’re not using them and never intend to,” the tour guide said. “We think it’s instructive. Americans can learn something from what they see here.”
But, I objected, I don’t see 50 sets of bones — not all Republican senators have surrendered their spines, as the recent impeachment vote demonstrated. And there are Republicans all over the country who have taken stands that clearly indicate they have backbone.
“Terrible disappointment,” the guide said. “Makes you wonder where their loyalty lies.”
America, maybe? The Constitution? Democracy? The rule of law? Morality, decency, honesty?
“You must be antifa,” the guide sniffed. “You probably started the attack on the Capitol.”
I ignored him and moved on. What about guts, I asked? Shouldn’t the Senatorial guts be here too?
“We thought about that,” the guide said. “But it’s rather redundant, don’t you think? Without spines, guts are useless. Besides, it would be really messy.”
I noticed that the display case labeled “Mitt Romney” was empty. “He asked for it back for the impeachment vote,” the guide said. “But it’s provisional. We told him we could request that it be returned at any time, depending on events.”
As the tour ended, I told the guide it was an impressive collection.
“Yup,” the guide said. “We’d get their hearts too, if they had any.”
Then the guide glanced around with a conspiratorial look. “Here’s a new branch of the museum that’s growing like gangbusters,” he confided as he steered me through an unmarked door. There, in an appropriately dim setting, were the brains of all the most-prominent Fox News commentators, including the entire Fox & Friends crew — floating in oversized fishbowls like they were part of a madman’s laboratory. How is this possible? I asked.
The guide chuckled. “It wasn’t that hard,” he said. “It’s evident to everyone in America that they weren’t being utilized. Nobody watching Fox even noticed that the talking heads’ brains were missing.”
“They’re all kind of small,” I noted as I scanned the collection.
“We thought so too,” the guide said. “But they’re consistent with the brains of conservative radio talk show hosts, so we didn’t see it as an anomaly.”
I looked around for Sean Hannity’s brain but couldn’t find it.
The guide furrowed his brow. “We tried everything,” he said. “X-rays. CAT scan. MRI. We just couldn’t find anything you could identify even as a brain stem, just some little wrinkled thing about the size of a walnut. We figured if that was all he had, we should leave him with it.”
“We didn’t even ask,” the guide said. “Have you heard him? There’s nothing going on inside that skull. Amoebas have a more cogent thought process.”
What about frequent Fox contributor Rudy Giuliani’s brain? I inquired. The guide shuddered. “Nobody wants that thing in here,” he said. “Not even the other Republicans.”
Could the museum’s curators envision an auxiliary exhibit for Democratic senators’ spines? “We’ve definitely got our eye on a couple after they got all weak-kneed about insisting on testimony at the impeachment trial,” the guide said. “Spinal degeneration can be bi-partisan, you know.” Thinking back to the Vietnam War era, I couldn’t disagree.
As for the future of the museum, post-Trump?
“The ex-president wants our collection as part of his library, because they gave up their spines for him,” the guide harrumphed. “But that’s not going to happen. These historic artifacts belong to the American people.”