Our National Trees

Mushroomby Timothy Lane   9/24/14
I often think of Al Gore as the National Tree, and it occurs to me that many politicians can be compared to trees – or other plants, perhaps. Harry Reid, for example, would make an excellent toadstool, such as Amanita phalloides (the death cap) or Amanita verna (the death angel) – easily mistaken for an edible (and nutritious) mushroom, but in reality extremely poisonous. Joe Biden, of course, would be locoweed, and Eric Holder a slime mold.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, makes an excellent oleander – a popular ornamental shrub, but also very deadly and thus one which has to be handled with great care. John Boehner, of course, would be a weeping willow. On other hand, Nancy Pelosi reminds of my young days, when we would drive around Pebble Beach (my father was attending the Army Language School in the Monterey Presidio to study Greek) and notice the twisted, gnarly cypress trees – especially a pair of trees known as the Ghost Tree and the Witch Tree. Don’t those sound like Pelosi to you?

Of course, what America needs is a good, sturdy oak tree – like the live oaks used to fashion the USS Constitution over 200 years ago. But where could we find a live oak today? Perhaps Jeff Sessions might qualify. It’s hard to see anyone else who qualifies (unless you count Rush Limbaugh, who has faced an active campaign to destroy him by a group of 10 obsessive liberal fascists led by the Executive Vice President of Media Matters and a Kent State professor, but refuses to bow down to the intimidators). Sarah Palin might be best thought of as a quebracho, a South American tree known (as I recall from my childhood reading) as the “axe-breaker” (and a source of tannin).

Among past presidents, Lyndon Baines Johnson was clearly the opium poppy – a pretty-looking blossom with an addictive, soporific juice. Jimmy Carter, of course, was a peanut, and Bill Clinton a date palm. Ronald Reagan may have been a live oak himself, but unfortunately he was followed by the Bushes, a line of towering – but barely surviving – chestnut trees. (Would this make Ross Perot the chestnut blight? Sounds reasonable.) Jerry Ford would be a sycamore (the plane tree). As for Richard Nixon . . . he turned out to be a dandelion, a weed that can be pretty at times but a nuisance overall.

Of course, there are many significant people in politics besides the top leaders. Elizabeth Warren and her fellow populist progressives remind me of kudzu, and are as difficult to deal with (and are devastating to those they overrun). The Barbours of Mississippi would be the Judas tree, symbol of betrayal. (But what does it say about the GOP leadership that they refuse to condemn Henry Barbour’s vicious smear of Tea Partiers? As an inedible Kentucky coffee tree, McConnell would at least be an improvement over a toadstool, I guess.) Bobby Kennedy, Jr., the fanatical climate cultist, makes a good hemlock – deadly to those who think for themselves. (A Gore himself would be another kudzu. There’s a lot of that going around.)

Well, if we can’t find a good live oak to lead us today, might we at least get an aloe to provide a balm for all the pains we endure from the Obama Gang? Maybe Tom Cotton would fill the bill. We shall see.


Timothy Lane writes from Louisville, Kentucky and publishes the FOSFAX fanzine.
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One Response to Our National Trees

  1. Rosalys says:

    As one who likes trees very much – so much that I was once accused of being a tree hugger; but there is a fine line there and I can assure you I have not crossed it. If I were a true tree hugger I would take umbrage at your smearing of our fine friends of the plant world. Instead I found your musings delightful! Thank you for a bit of fun!

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