Carlo and the politicians

They thought they were the Kings of America–say, now, how about a Brooklyn Bridge–or two–for you–I can get it–just for you–wholesale?

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Italian immigrant Carlo Pietro Giovanni Guglielmo Tebaldo Ponzi sold golden dreams to the unwary.

Politicians, just as Carlo, sell dreams to the greedy, the hopeful and the desperate.  Many do buy the dreams and the flashy sales receipts cause Carlo and the politicians to boast to themselves that they are both ardently loved and very clever.  Both sorts of confidence men end up disappointed far more than do their victims, as, they discover, always too late, that the product they hawk is but a Brilliant Mistake.

From electoral confidence games to financial confidence men, American history is the story of men who think they know America but who end up buying themselves, not, as they misguidedly think, selling to others, Brooklyn Bridges of varying lengths, shapes and sizes.  Each shares this common delusion:

He thought he was the King of America

He thought he was the King of America
Where they pour Coca Cola just like vintage wine
Now I try hard not to become hysterical
But I’m not sure if I am laughing or crying
I wish that I could push a button
And talk in the past and not the present tense
And watch this hurtin’ feeling disappear
Like it was common sense
It was a fine idea at the time
Now it’s a brilliant mistake

She said that she was working for the ABC News
It was as much of the alphabet as she knew how to use
Her perfume was unspeakable
It lingered in the air
Like her artificial laughter
Her mementos of affairs
“Oh” I said “I see you know him”
“Isn’t that very fortunate for you”
And she showed me his calling card
He came third or fourth and there were more than one or two
He was a fine idea at the time
Now he’s a brilliant mistake

He thought he was the King of America

But it was just a boulevard of broken dreams

A trick they do with mirrors and with chemicals
The words of love in whispers
And the axe of love in screams
I wish that I could push a button
And talk in the past and not the present tense
And watch this lovin’ feeling disappear
Like it was common sense
I was a fine idea at the time
Now I’m a brilliant mistake

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From Mr. Elvis Costello’s Brilliant Mistake

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