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American Thinker
American Thinker
11 Feb 2023
Peter Rosenberger


NextImg:Distracted by Theatrics

As the first volleys in the 2024 race for the White House echo, Americans brace themselves for two years of bickering, drama, screaming, mud-slinging, and rancor -- and that's just from the media. Observing the histrionics, pearl-clutching, and races to the camera following incendiary tweets and news stories recalls an unusual life lesson learned while watching professional wrestler Baron von Rashcke perform in the 1970s. 

The colorful and dramatic Baron von Rashcke goosestepped onto the screen and haughtily taunted audiences and opponents alike. Early in his career, he wore a monocle and appeared draped in a Swastika to sell the German evil villain act. With his signature move of the "The Claw," he grabbed his opponent's head like the face-hugger from Alien and sent them twitching into unconsciousness. My four brothers and I often watched wrestling and recreated the scenarios in our den. Our father usually laughed at his sons leaping onto one another (until something broke). Invariably, however, one of us used "the claw." So enthralled were we to watch Baron von Rashcke and other wrestlers that our stoic minister and U.S. Navy officer father did something unexpected and took us to the local auditorium to see these larger-than-life figures. Dad cared nothing about wrestling, but he enjoyed watching us -- and the crowd’s behavior always fascinated him.

The two most prominent memories of that night for me were Baron von Rashcke stomping into the arena wearing his long black wrestling pants, high boots, and a flowing cape (he'd ditched the Nazi flag by then). The second memory is of a woman to my right who appeared to be "grandmother" age. The popcorn container in her hand shook as she viscerally screamed at the wrestler while spit flew from her mouth.

I've always wondered if it occurred to that rage-filled woman that Baron von Rashcke left the venue to return to his hotel rather than his hideout in a dormant volcano -- and he probably grabbed dinner at a local Waffle House with fellow wrestlers. Baron Von Rashcke's real name is James Donald Rashcke, and he was born in Omaha, Nebraska -- not Germany. By all accounts, he is a marvelous man who was extremely good at his job -- which involved promoting himself. 

Like that woman, many Americans seem invested in hating someone who challenges their hero. So much so that fury appears to rob the ability to speak reasonably with one another. Instead of venerating political heroes and demonizing their opponents, Americans should remember that most people in elected office are doing their job -- which is to promote themselves. As Governor William J. Lepetomane (Mel Brooks) shouted in Blazing Saddles, "Gentlemen, we've got to do something to protect our phony-baloney jobs!" 

It's a show – and a well-funded and well-attended show at that. Entertainers do and say outrageous things, but that's how one stays in the spotlight -- and skilled politicians know the placement of each camera, microphone, and sycophantic media member. 

In the vintage Looney Tunes cartoons, Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog walked together to begin their workdays. After stamping their timecards, they immediately became adversaries as Ralph tried to steal sheep while Sam thwarted his efforts. After a day of bruising fights, the two walked together to clock out and say goodnight. The cartoons vividly represented what often occurs behind the scenes in the halls of power. It's a job. It's a show.

Regardless of the spectacular production and skill needed for professional wrestling, and as brilliant as Looney Tunes cartoons were, they're no match for the political theater in Washington, D.C. Despite a well-crafted public identity, a great costume, and "the claw" remaining one of the most memorable gimmicks of professional wrestling, Baron von Rashcke was an amateur next to the gimmicks, schemes, and projected identities traipsing in "professional government." While calling themselves public servants, they remain neither and hide agendas and identities behind carefully constructed personas.

Professional entertainers produce shows that distract while enriching the performers. The State of the Union is one of the biggest shows on earth. After Biden's speech, are Americans safer, healthier, stronger, wealthier, and more unified? 

We should all feel the same outrage as that woman fomenting at Baron von Rashcke -- but not at the entertainers. We should save our indignation (and embarrassment) for ourselves. Instead of securing a porous southern border that makes it easy for America's enemies to send bad actors and worse drugs, we shriek at foolish politicians who we allow to never miss a paycheck -- even in a pandemic. 

Under our watch, children are subject to psychological and physical damage to satisfy the fetishes of the woke mob. While Baron von Rashcke's "Claw" incapacitated his opponents, Americans remain immobilized by Tik Tok, Netflix, gender dysphoria, pronouns, CRT, and a host of other shiny objects meant to keep our collective attention diverted. 

Succumbing to distractions, Americans salute every flag but our own while the country’s values and infrastructures crumble -- and our enemies watch undeterred from a balloon in the sky. 

Peter Rosenberger hosts the nationally syndicated radio program Hope for the Caregiver. @hope4caregiver

Image: Hogarth