By John Kass
One of the tortures of our childhood occurred when our mom would drag us along to visit a madwoman we called “Thea” Varvara.
Like Vice President Kamala Harris in her bizarre new NASA video, “Thea” Varvara would natter excitedly about fantastic adventures, using many voices, her hands fluttering like frightened birds.
Not about adventures in space, like Harris. But adventures, nevertheless. It was awkward then when we were kids, and watching Harris on her lost in space video, it seems painfully awkward now.
“Thea” Varvara wasn’t our aunt, but a neighbor. She was quite nice and kind, but even we children could see she was obviously quite ill. Her husband, “Uncle” Mike was a union boss who got my father into the waiter’s union, and dad worked as a captain in the Boulevard Room of the Conrad Hilton Hotel. It was my first lesson in what would become The Chicago Way.
“Uncle” Mike never said much. He had a long knife scar on his face, from his ear, along his throat, under his chin. We never saw him around the house. He drove a large, dark, shiny car and parked it on South Peoria Street, and no one ever leaned on it.
Varvara did the talking, and my brothers and I knew what would happen if we misbehaved on these old-school visits of obligation. We’d sit quietly in our itchy church clothes, on the edge of the sofa in the front-room, pretending to like the bad candy in the dish.
And “Thea” Varvara, using many different voices, some purring and cat-like, some wildly excited, would talk and talk. She’d direct most of her comments to the fake cellophane log in the non-working fireplace. We stopped visiting the day she angrily insisted on kissing us on the lips.
Yes, of course it was awkward, and looking back on it now, it was also sad.
Kind of like watching Vice President Harris talking to child actors in her political relaunch about the wonders of space. No, I don’t think Harris is mad. But she’s hopelessly shallow, and thoroughly incompetent in the job.
The paid child actors in the bizarre Kamala Harris space video seemed trapped, in that awkward meeting on a porch, as we were trapped years ago, sitting stiffly, in “Thea” Varvara’s front-room, smiling thinly when required, eating that horrid candy, as her hands waved.
For Harris’ sake, I hoped she’d have prepared by watching old clips of “Star Trek: Voyager” with Katherine Mulgrew, and channel herself some Captain Janeway–strong, always curious, and in command. But Harris got gooey, and kids can spot oily phoniness in adults.
Harris on the NASA channel is a political relaunch of sorts, after her disastrous non-handling of the now wide-open Southern Border that she was once supposed to take care of, but has since abandoned to others in the administration who also ignore its wide-open spaces.
“When you have to pay kids to pretend that you’re fascinating and cool, that’s bad,” said a former prominent Chicago Democrat. “It’s almost as bad as having to hide your candidate in his basement during a campaign.”
I asked Steve the Pilot, a conservative who studied rocket science about that.
“But hiding in the basement worked, didn’t it?” said Steve. “It worked for Joe Biden. He hid in the basement and now he’s the president and she’s vice president”
And she’s one heartbeat away.
Naturally, the right is mocking Harris, and the left just as naturally, is outraged and pouts, pointing to an old Hollywood Reporter story in which then-presidential candidate Donald Trump paid some actors to show up at his initial campaign announcement and hold signs.
But they weren’t children.
Politicians of all parties, saints and sinners, round up their patronage workers with government jobs to stand with them at events, placing them as demographic archetypes for photos depending on need. And toadies and true believers climb up there too. It’s all show-biz.
What strikes me here is the desperate nature of Harris’ new adventure, with the paid child actors in faux wide-eyed rapture as she lectures them on the importance of being earnestly curious.
There has been much scathing commentary and I included something from Twitter as the image at the top of this column. A sharp Tweet came from @ben_awareness who said, “Me when I miscalculate a micro dose and start fully tripping midday.”
No, I don’t think Vice President Harris is a day-tripper, but the phony earnestness, the fluttering hands and the many voices were, as Spock might say, “fascinating.”
To the child actors she said, “I love the idea of exploring the unknown (waving her hands) …and then there’s other things that we just haven’t figured out or discovered yet (squeaky voice) …to think about so much that’s out there that we still have to learn? Like I love that (right hand on heart) I love that…. we can do it in space, that’s one of the things I’m most excited about (kitty cat purring) …you guys are gonna see. You’re gonna literally see the craters of the moon with your own eyes! With your own eyes I’m telling you it is going to be unbelievable!”
Agreed. It is unbelievable.
Watching her try to reinvent herself at the expense of taxpayer subsidized child actors was desperate, like watching Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina pretend to be a conservative on Fox News.
Yet even with Biden’s poll numbers falling and independents walking away from him and Democrats like Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s campaign in sheer panic mode, Harris protects the president. With all of his self-inflicted wounds, from the creation of his now wide-open Southern border, to his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, draconian Covid-19 mandates and inflation tearing at everyone’s savings, Harris is the one keeping him in office.
Why? Because she’s a heartbeat away. If he’s not president, then she’s the president.
And then we’d truly be lost in space.
(copyright 2021 John Kass)