Shakespeare On The Potomac

 

The drama playing out in Washington is striking, something out of Shakespeare. In the press Trump is portrayed as the ineffectual Richard II, the scheming and illegitimate Richard III, the lost and aging King Lear, the arrogant Caesar and the lustful and intemperate Henry VIII. The opposition sees Trump as irredeemably flawed. His leadership in their vision can only bring political disaster and a series of impending future political tragedies of monumental enormity.

The Never Trumpers see the flaws as well, magnified and monstrous. In their worldview, political winners must be heroes and not just be virtuous now, but always. There is no room for the penitent, much less the continual, sinner. Superior virtue should always trump grandiosity and ugly self-promotion. To the Gary Robbins’ (@garyrobbins) of the world, Trump is a poseur, a promoter, the PT Barnum of modern politics, feckless, unworthy, a travesty really, a mockery to those who want their presidents to be made of, not have, brass.

But like all of Shakespeare’s titled characters, Trump is nuanced. He’s a family man despite his divorces. He’s funny. He’s glib and remarkably unfiltered. He’s likable. He doesn’t pretend to be perfect, and at times can seem humbled. He is relentless and undaunted. Trump’s the real thing. And despite all his opposition, he is implementing the policies he articulated when he won office. And those policies are working. We are no longer dependent on foreign oil. Our taxes are lower. Our wages have risen. Businesses are expanding. We’re making progress in securing our southern border. Markets are up. ISIS and its leadership have been delivered to the devil. Trade relationships are more favorable to US interests and trade adversaries are chastened. Allies are no longer ignoring their fiscal commitments to defense. People are getting off public assistance. Unemployed and under-employed Americans are getting back to work. Interest rates remain modest. And our judiciary is more constructionist in direct conflict to those who would like a judiciary that is inventive and adventurist when it comes to testing the constitutionality or application of the law.

The tragedy that the Democrats are trying to avert is their own; with Trump they are losing the court as an arbiter of their opaque ideas of fairness and justice. The Left has been eroding our constitutional liberty and cementing in the bureaucratic state since the days when Wilson and his war council took the lead from El Duce and seized control of our government. FDR, a war council member, learned. With ending the depression as his calling and with help from an overwhelming Democrat majority, FDR started the country down the path to statism.

The policies being touted by today’s Democratic presidential hopefuls are neither new nor unique. We had 70% tax brackets before Kennedy dropped them in the early sixties. The socialization of medicine has been a staple of every left-wing politician’s promise over the last 75 years. Wealth confiscation has been in political conversation since Robin Hood holed up in Sherwood Forest. There is nothing new to see here. Why are Democrat politicians so blatantly expostulating these unpopular and unmanageable Leftist policies? There was a time not long ago when Democrats had to speak of their statist tendencies in hushed tones and soft denials. Abortion should be rare, they said. Gun ownership should be legal but controlled. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. We believe in the sanctity of marriage. Now, they are almost shrill. They support abortion, any reason, any time. Everyone is entitled to free healthcare. Guns should be confiscated. A church that does not sanctify gay marriage should lose its non-profit status, etc. It’s like the last gasps of a dying man to his wife, Mary, setting the record straight: I always loved Alice.

The Democrats want to turn this plot from their tragedy to Trump’s, making it, for them, a sweet comic ending. No, Hillary will not seize the opportunity and lead the Democrats to victory. Her tragedy has already played out. Joe Biden is a prototypical Shakespearian tragic hero and as a result, there is only one ending for him. As for the rest of the candidates, no Shakespearian drama can be both tragedy and comedy. They have all already rehearsed their last words in public, so we know what they really loved all these years.

Trump will win a second term and the Democrats will be left to wonder where they went wrong. He’ll never be a perfect President, but neither will this play end a political tragedy.

There are 19 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Maybe Henry V.

    • #1
  2. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Good post.

    In the days of the Holy Roman Empire (“neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire”), the Emperor was chosen by a select group of men called the Electors, all of them members of the nobility.

    In America today, we have a group of people who consider themselves our Electors…national journalists, senior officials of the intelligence agencies and the State Department, and “elite” university professors.  Many if not most of them seem to feel that only those candidates authorized by themselves should be allowed to become President.

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    David Foster (View Comment):
    In the days of the Holy Roman Empire (“neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire”), the Emperor was chosen by a select group of men called the Electors, all of them members of the nobility.

    But they never had more than nine until they were collapsing, and everyone knew exactly who the Churfürsten were.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Doug Kimball: The drama playing out in Washington is striking, something out of Shakespeare.

    More like something out of a Ritz Brothers movie.

    • #4
  5. El Colonel Contributor
    El Colonel
    @El Colonel

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Maybe Henry V.

    That spoken like a true conservative – a bard work about Kings with a happy ending!    

    • #5
  6. MichaelKennedy Inactive
    MichaelKennedy
    @MichaelKennedy

    Angelo Codevilla began quite a bit of this in 2010 with his  essay on “The Ruling Class.”  I assume everyone has read that.  If not;

    http://abriefhistory.org/?page_id=2922

    I save some of those documents on my blog as The American Spectator keeps altering links.

    Sarah Palin was a herald of what was coming.  Codevilla explained why.

    Codevilla has a more recent discussion about the abuse of the intelligence agencies.

    https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/culture-news/292763/angelo-codevilla

    Especially this:

    The agencies, like all bureaucracies, have always tried to aggrandize themselves, build their reputations, in order to make and spend more money. Get more high-ranking positions. Get more post-retirement positions for their people in the industries that support them. They’ve done exactly what bureaucrats in other agencies have done, neither more nor less.

    But the business they’re in, which involves surveillance, is uniquely dangerous, because surveillance is inherently a political weapon. Inherently so. And there is never any lack of appetite for increasing the power of surveillance, and for increasing the reach of surveillance.

    Fortunately, especially in my time on the Hill, we had pretty good resistance against bureaucratic attempts to increase the reach of government surveillance over the rest of the country.

    Then along came 9/11, and congressmen, senators, who didn’t know any better, were rather easily persuaded, and for that matter Presidents—George W. Bush being exhibit number one—were very easily persuaded, that giving the agencies something close to carte blanche for electronic surveillance would help to keep the country safe. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 2008 to accommodate the practices which had evolved extralegally under George Bush, which essentially allowed the agencies to wiretap at will, so long as they claimed that this was for foreign intelligence purposes. In this regard, they claimed that what they were doing was within the spirit, if not the letter, of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which stated that any warrantless collection of electronic intelligence, bugging and other means of collection in finding intelligence, could capture the communications of U.S. persons, only incidentally in the course of capturing the communications of foreign targets.

    Trump came along at the end of his business career and decided to get involved. I was skeptical early but he showed up the weakness of those who thought they were members of the elites.

    • #6
  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Doug Kimball: Gus should be confiscated.

    He certainly should be! 

    (I’m just beating Arahant to it. Confiscate him too!)

    • #7
  8. Not Judge Mental Member
    Not Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Doug Kimball: Gus should be confiscated.

    He certainly should be!

    (I’m just beating Arahant to it. Confiscate him too!)

    I knew I didn’t need to make that comment.

    • #8
  9. I. M. Fine Coolidge
    I. M. Fine
    @IMFine

    Clever post. But I’m not sure the press sees Trump as any sort of king.  I feel they are continually portraying the President as Falstaff – vain, boastful, scheming – but (they will never tell you this) they are actually drawn to his bigger-than-life force. And we just love that they can’t seem to figure out what he’ll do next.

    “Presume not that I am the thing I was!” (Henry IV, Part 2)

    • #9
  10. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    The Left’s habitual projection is truly a wonder to behold. They want an all-powerful king supported by an army of lackey judges and bureaucrats. If the Oval Office is the throne, then a Republican must never occupy it. Especially not a rightwing extremist who knows how to play the game! 

    • #10
  11. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Doug Kimball: Gus should be confiscated.

    He certainly should be!

    (I’m just beating Arahant to it. Confiscate him too!)

    Hey! This is STILL the U. S. of A. If Gus objects, he should be able to get a lawyer.(Personally, I think a jury would find in Gus’ favor.)

    • #11
  12. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Good post.

    In the days of the Holy Roman Empire (“neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire”), the Emperor was chosen by a select group of men called the Electors, all of them members of the nobility.

    In America today, we have a group of people who consider themselves our Electors…national journalists, senior officials of the intelligence agencies and the State Department, and “elite” university professors. Many if not most of them seem to feel that only those candidates authorized by themselves should be allowed to become President.

    The national journalists and Talking Heads continue to spew their bigoted hatred toward anyone who doesn’t think like them.

    It is surprising how these people still feel they have their fingers on the pulse of the modern world. Rachel Maddow is currently  battling it out simply to tie with Hannity or Tucker Carlson. Meanwhile, Joe Rogan racks up 12 million hits on his podcasts, winning a viewership that is five times what Maddow’s is most nights of the week.

    • #12
  13. DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Doug Kimball: The Never Trumpers see the flaws as well, magnified and monstrous. In their worldview, political winners must be heroes and not just be virtuous now, but always. There is no room for the penitent, much less the continual, sinner.

    “And the NeverTrumper stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people — the deplorables, the irredeemables — or even like this Trump voter here.'”

    • #13
  14. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Doug Kimball: Gus should be confiscated.

    He certainly should be!

    (I’m just beating Arahant to it. Confiscate him too!)

    Hey! This is STILL the U. S. of A. If Gus objects, he should be able to get a lawyer.(Personally, I think a jury would find in Gus’ favor.)

    Poor Gus, alas, I hardly knew him…

    • #14
  15. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):

    Clever post. But I’m not sure the press sees Trump as any sort of king. I feel they are continually portraying the President as Falstaff – vain, boastful, scheming – but (they will never tell you this) they are actually drawn to his bigger-than-life force. And we just love that they can’t seem to figure out what he’ll do next.

    “Presume not that I am the thing I was!” (Henry IV, Part 2)

    You are on to something here as the character Flagstaff was much loved by the audience.  He was never on top, always boorish, unsuccessfully corrupt and comic, a fool.  They might wish that Trump was Falstaff, but Trump was a sober risk taker and a successful one; he was a playboy but a serious one; and he never played the fool.  

    • #15
  16. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):

    Clever post. But I’m not sure the press sees Trump as any sort of king. I feel they are continually portraying the President as Falstaff – vain, boastful, scheming – but (they will never tell you this) they are actually drawn to his bigger-than-life force. And we just love that they can’t seem to figure out what he’ll do next.

    “Presume not that I am the thing I was!” (Henry IV, Part 2)

    You are on to something here as the character Flagstaff was much loved by the audience. He was never on top, always boorish, unsuccessfully corrupt and comic, a fool. They might wish that Trump was Falstaff, but Trump was a sober risk taker and a successful one; he was a playboy but a serious one; and he never played the fool.

    The line he quoted was not Falstaff speaking.

    • #16
  17. I. M. Fine Coolidge
    I. M. Fine
    @IMFine

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):

    Clever post. But I’m not sure the press sees Trump as any sort of king. I feel they are continually portraying the President as Falstaff – vain, boastful, scheming – but (they will never tell you this) they are actually drawn to his bigger-than-life force. And we just love that they can’t seem to figure out what he’ll do next.

    “Presume not that I am the thing I was!” (Henry IV, Part 2)

    You are on to something here as the character Flagstaff was much loved by the audience. He was never on top, always boorish, unsuccessfully corrupt and comic, a fool. They might wish that Trump was Falstaff, but Trump was a sober risk taker and a successful one; he was a playboy but a serious one; and he never played the fool.

    The line he quoted was not Falstaff speaking.

    Yes. This is Henry V; wasn’t trying to imply F. was speaking. (Although he was in the scene with Hal.) Just a summation of the current climate. (Btw, great QOTD, Arahant!)

    • #17
  18. I. M. Fine Coolidge
    I. M. Fine
    @IMFine

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):

    Clever post. But I’m not sure the press sees Trump as any sort of king. I feel they are continually portraying the President as Falstaff – vain, boastful, scheming – but (they will never tell you this) they are actually drawn to his bigger-than-life force. And we just love that they can’t seem to figure out what he’ll do next.

    “Presume not that I am the thing I was!” (Henry IV, Part 2)

    You are on to something here as the character Flagstaff was much loved by the audience. He was never on top, always boorish, unsuccessfully corrupt and comic, a fool. They might wish that Trump was Falstaff, but Trump was a sober risk taker and a successful one; he was a playboy but a serious one; and he never played the fool.

    I agree; he never played the fool. Perfect distinction.

     

    • #18
  19. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):

    Clever post. But I’m not sure the press sees Trump as any sort of king. I feel they are continually portraying the President as Falstaff – vain, boastful, scheming – but (they will never tell you this) they are actually drawn to his bigger-than-life force. And we just love that they can’t seem to figure out what he’ll do next.

    “Presume not that I am the thing I was!” (Henry IV, Part 2)

    You are on to something here as the character Flagstaff was much loved by the audience. He was never on top, always boorish, unsuccessfully corrupt and comic, a fool. They might wish that Trump was Falstaff, but Trump was a sober risk taker and a successful one; he was a playboy but a serious one; and he never played the fool.

    The line he quoted was not Falstaff speaking.

    I was an English major.  It really ticked off some in the drama department when I was cast as the Doctor and a knight (both speaking parts) in King Lear.  Peter Saccio was the lead Shakespeare professor and his lectures attracted an audience.  We became friends – the straight city kid sometimes jock and the loosely closeted gay professor  – with a deep, shared interest.  I spent many an hour listening to plays recorded on vinyl by the Royal Shakespeare Company while reading along with the script.  Saccio’s lectures are available on CD (https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/shakespeare-comedies-histories-and-tragedies.html)  Worth every penny.

    • #19

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