Thursday, June 29, 2017

Baited Expectations

By Bob Ferris

I am thinking about fly fishing today in part because my injured shoulder stops me from taking to my favorite streams and casting for trout this summer.   It makes me a little edgy and angry.  I could probably fake it some by flipping my wrist creatively and focusing on small pools but it is the balance thing that would probably get me.   I could fool myself into trying but not having a stable arm to stop or slow a mossy rock slip could lead to disaster.  And this makes me think about Melania Trump and her response  to the Donald’s very unpresidential (and sad) comments about Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski.  Actually, not so much her response but the response to her response. 

Why?  Since the time of Izaak Walton fly fishing has always been about the throwing out of something showy and attractive disguised as something else.  The feathers, fluff and flashy tinsel also hide great peril for those fooled by the ruse.  It seems a strong metaphor for this situation with Melania, but really applies to this whole administration.  But let’s start with her. 

Our Melania problem is that Americans keep expecting a legitimate first lady and we are fooled just like a trout that mistakes a fly with hook for food when it is not and never was.  In this we are forever hopeful.  And she did appear twice to slap away Donald’s hand and many gained great hope of character from those acts.   But my sense is that this was just the functional equivalent of a rod tip jiggle giving life-like movement to a fly a trout would otherwise swim past because of its artificiality. 

In this I am not endorsing the notion that first ladies (or eventually first men) must live in the shadow of their elected spouses or that they have unpaid obligations that they must fulfill.  My criticism is of the outrage and surprise that some are expressing because Melania Trump is defending these deplorable tweets.  After all, here is a woman who once claimed a degree she did not have and plagiarized elements of her convention speech.  She's also in a lawsuit defending her reputation from slanderous statements claimed that her ability to make money as first lady would be damaged by how she had been characterized.  There is nothing in any of this that indicates that she is a moral or philosophical outlier in the Trump crowd.  She is clearly made of the same fluff and gold tinsel.   We need to keep our eyes open and should not confuse a trademark squint with accomplishment or an attractive figure with fortitude.

This example and the metaphor are important in a broader sense for two reasons.  The first is that we as a nation have to look closer at what is presented to us.  If we do not we will surely perish or be greatly diminished.  Being continually fooled and then outraged does not keep us swimming free.  It only ensures our place in the frying pan or on the grill.  

The metaphor of a fly is important because the image of the fly at the top likely attracted anglers to this piece.  Good, because much of the “barbs” associated with the “hooks” of this Administration such as the attacks on climate action, clean water and public lands will harm the interests of anglers and hunters now and for generations to come.  We as anglers need to learn from this lesson and recognize the false food of this fly.  We need to stir up our various pools and make sure others do not foolishly rise to that which lessens our lives and jeopardizes our pursuits and passions (see above as a reminder of the issues at stake).  Open your eyes and get active.  

In happier times with two working shoulders.  Hopefully we will all heel from our current circumstance. 

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