Abbie Hoffman may you rest in peace, you taught them well.
Wikipedia defines street theater and sideshow as follows:
Street theatre is a form of theatrical performance and presentation in outdoor public spaces without a specific paying audience.
In America, a sideshow is an extra, secondary production associated with a circus, carnival, fair or other such attraction.
So my take is the Cash for Clunkers program was both street theater at its best and brightest and a sideshow to the main event of the stimulus program. (albeit as small sideshow).
I will admit here, up front, that I had a front row seat for both.
My 13 year old jeep (191,000 miles and less than 18 MPG) was threatening a large expense in the near future, so I could not resist the chance for the federal government to fork over the down payment (or 18 months worth of payments). So OK I am a communist by "far right wing " definition, but so are 500,000+ other financially challenged citizens.
I would bet that there are some folks who were, and still are, vehement anti-stimulus activists who took the cash.
If you feel guilty about taking the money, repent!, and send me the cash. I promise to use it well.
One of the degrading parts of Cash for Clunkers was the meeting with the "Automobile Death Panel". I am pretty sure health care reform proponents were testing the final care consultations and end of life guidance, e.g. "death panel" as an idea slated for health care reform. (The consultation was eliminated in health care but it was NOT eliminated in the CARS program).
When you hand over the keys and the proof of registration and insurance (for the past year). The auto death panel walks you through the gruesome and painful last few minutes of your faithful ride.
The Clunkers are drained of their oil and given a lethal injection of sodium silicate (liquid glass) that hardens the engine. The engine runs coughing and spitting for a few minutes or more. This is a painful death for sure.
My last thoughts walking off the lot were of Dylan Thomas' great poem of dying:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.......
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
But hey, my new ride gets up to 37 MPG on the highway and I bought the 100,000 mile everything warranty so this ride won't be meeting my old ride in car heaven for a while.
PS. The CARS program ends today so be mollified that although you missed the show, you won't have to face a "death panel" when deciding the fate of a long standing companion.