Bard endorses Biden in full-throated repugnance for would-be tyrant!
During the Shakespeare/Trump debate, when the President was asked what steps his campaign has been taking to try to infect Biden, Trump declined to answer on the grounds that it might tend to incriminate him.
But he couldn’t resist pointing out that Biden was already a ‘loser,’ didn’t need to be dead like all those stupid D-Day soldiers buried in France.
Fox News reported that, in off-camera remarks at the top of the long-sought town hall, Trump demanded that Shakespeare remove his mask. The man courteously declined, saying he still needed to live to write King Lear, The Tempest, and what-have-you.
Trump scolded him for disloyalty, called him a wimp and in retaliation ordered Mitch McConnell to rewrite all 37 plays — and burn the discredited versions — so that the Bad Guys always win.
Note. He has not fully settled on someone to rewrite the Lone Ranger, in which the main character is a killer and a Bad Guy.
Just then Hamlet’s father’s ghost — making a guest appearance, courtesy of Paramount Pictures — suddenly materialized and declared “Trump poisoned me too!”
“Did not, did not!” said Trump. The ghost’s ‘body’ was not visible on TV screens but he proved to be a good typist. These words appeared:
Tyrant’s underlying strategy: lies and more lies, then top it off with more lies for dessert.
Biden: Of course, even before Trump was infected, he scared some and deceived others. (“I love that!” the President confirmed, “I wish I could get more people scared!”) Now even some of his own enablers are struggling to believe that they are safe…
Charlottesville Survivor: Mr. Trump, isn’t it true that, before tens of millions of witnesses, that you refused to condemn white supremacy — and that you have endorsed its ugly doctrines?
Trump: ‘Endorsed’? Ha! For God’s sake, I’m their leader! Didn’t you just hear me tell my Proud Boys to “Stand by”? Hey, and just a reminder: lots of good citizens aren’t squeamish about using their assault rifles…
In response one of his apologists says, “His highness is not well.” (Macbeth 3.4) That turned out to be one of very few true statements…
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal cite three recent developments that can no longer be ignored:
- Trump said once that he would accept the results of the election — and ten times that he wouldn’t!
- With endless lies about being cheated out of victory by rigged voting, he has established the myth he wants to use. With that fake story he can call out his Brownshirts, much like the Nazis used the staged Reichstag fire to begin the seizing of their enemies.
- Isn’t he already saying that Hillary Clinton and President Obama should be arrested? Meanwhile a right-wing militia just tried to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and ‘start a civil war’(!)
*Shakespeare’s chief tyrants include, among others, Richard III, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and the fanatically jealous Leontes in The Winter’s Tale. They have various traits in common, such as confusing their own personal desires with the needs of the state.
Of course Trump is not precisely Shakespeare’s Richard III, that “elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog,” the “poisonous bunch-backed toad.” Richard is smarter. But Shakespeare is pondering, according to Stephen Greenblatt’s insightful 2018 book Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics,
why would anyone, he asked himself, be drawn to a leader manifestly unsuited to govern, someone dangerously impulsive or viciously conniving or indifferent to the truth? Why, in some circumstances, does evidence of mendacity, crudeness, or cruelty serve not as a fatal disadvantage but as an allure, attracting ardent followers? Why do otherwise proud and self-respecting people submit to the sheer effrontery of the tyrant, to his spectacular indecency?
Greenblatt grasps that, in Shakespeare as in real life, there is no dividing line between psychology and politics. These are only sometimes-useful categories insisted on by our minds:
Although insecurity, overconfidence, and murderous rage are strange bedfellows, they all coexist in the tyrant’s soul. He has servants and associates, but in effect he is alone. Institutional restraints have all failed. The internal and external censors that keep most ordinary mortals, let alone rulers of nations, from sending irrational messages in the middle of the night or acting on every crazed impulse are absent.
So much for tyrants through the ages; now we’ve got one who’s right up there…
But now the challenge goes beyond understanding these mechanisms. The important thing is to bring it to an end.
That means voting and protecting the vote, facing down the attempts to misinterpret and dismiss the vote, the pressure to falsify the vote and falsify its meaning; it means facing down the far right and refusing to allow Trump and his minions to overthrow democracy and set their repulsive achievements in stone during a discredited lame duck session.
It’s all on the line. In Shakespeare and in real life, sooner or later, the tyrant is always overthrown and some level of freedom and comfort is restored. We want that to be on the sooner side
And let’s make sure we don’t break this winning streak!
© Jerry Kurtz 2020