The Political Schtick: Theater Review

In New York last week, I made it a point (no pun intended!) to see "Tail! Spin!", a hilarious political satire on our wayward politicians and their penises. You'll remember Anthony Wiener's infamous--and virally viewed--selfie ("I was hacked," he moaned); and Larry Craig's "wide stance" in the airport men's room; and Mark Foley's predilection for congressional pages; and Mark Sanford's trek on the Appalachian Trail. Here they are, all four of them, in their own self-righteous words, It's a riot. impeccably re-enacted by a fabulous cast, with all their excuses and explanations, their deflections and--finally--their unconvincing, if abject apologies.


Okay, it's a riot. But it's really a pretty sad tale. We men--you women may have noticed--seem to have a hard time controlling our libidos. Or no, it's not really a matter of "control", it's more a matter of knowing how to use our sexual gifts joyfully, to the appropriate satisfaction of our natural impulses and those of our partners; and of knowing how to do so without causing pain to those we love or to ourselves. It's not the penis that's at fault, it's the way that it's handled (again, please, no pun intended!)

We do love to hate our politicians. We have reason to hold a good number of them in contempt. Our current flock is notably incompetent. Inflexible, humorless, pontificating, phony-patriotic, self-assured in the worst possible way, they seem incapable of the kind of action we expect from our elected leaders. The "system" is in part to blame: they spend a great deal of their time prostrated at the altar of money, incurring indebtedness to the wealthiest donors who naturally expect something in return. But it's the same system that attracts the kind of "professionals" who neglect the needs of those they are supposed to serve in favor of their own self-interest--which primarily takes the form ego satisfaction and eventual re-election.


Still, these four guys and their penises... They are properly skewered in "Tail! Spin!", and by nothing other than their own venality. It requires little clowning on the part of the actors to make them look at once pathetic and absurd. The male cast--Arnie Burton, Sean Dugan, Nate Smith and Tom Galantich as the principals--are ably assisted by assisted by Rachel Dratch...
of SNL fame, who plays a series of dubiously dutiful wives as well as a truly hysterical Barbara Walters. The action is enlivened as each of the principals jumps into roles other than his own: we have lawyers and journalists, page boys and fellow congressmen all joining in the farce. The set has the familiar appearance of the debate stage, but the podia are no more than props for lively antics.

We laugh at them all, but remain painfully aware of the damage wrought by such men not only on the rapidly eroding trust in our political lives, but particularly on their suffering families and wives. Their overweening arrogance, their apparently unshakeable belief in their own invulnerability, their contempt for everything but the satisfaction of their own lust, is not only laughable--but appalling. Regrettably, such exemplars of our sex also ask us men to take a good look in the mirror and see the (somewhat distorted) reflection of our own libidinous selves! If we're not conscious how we use it, the penis has a lot to answer for.

Eventually, though, it's all about power, isn't it? It's about men who, out of their own desperate insecurity about their manhood, need to assert false dominance--and mistake the penis for the proper means to do it. Submit to my rod, submit to my rule. That's the tragedy behind this farce.