Ya Got Trouble — A fresh look at an old conBy
And that rhymes with “P” and that stands for pool!
Friday, a friend put me on to a musical bit that I know by heart, but he gave me a fresh perspective on it. I had never seen it in a modern political context, in a cable news/talk radio context.
In one, short speech — building intensity as he goes — Professor Harold Hill gathers a crowd of onlookers and rattles off a litany of big city sins “the right kinda parents” worry about corrupting their children and their small town: sloth, drinking, gambling, being “stuck-up,” smoking, loose morals, and indecent pop culture. In a fevered crescendo, Hill warns parents of “shameless music • That’ll grab your son, your daughter • With the arms of a jungle animal instink!”
Harold is selling something. And in four minutes he creates a market for it out of thin air — among people he calls “as green as the money.” Moments earlier…
HAROLD HILL: Now, Marce, I need some ideas if I’m gonna get your town out of the serious trouble it’s in.
MARCELLUS: River City ain’t in any trouble.
HILL: We’re going to have to create some.
Hill presses every button the people of River City, Iowa have to press, plus appeals to patriotism and God to create a city-wide moral crisis that four minutes earlier the townspeople didn’t know they had. Sound familiar?
Now strike pool . Insert contraception , voter fraud , death panels , or a half dozen other right-wing bogey men and the grifter’s pitch works the same. Today, Harold Hill would be working for Fox News or Americans for Prosperity. He’d be running American Crossroads, and making a lot more money.