The Body Is With King Trump, But King Trump Is Not With The Body

President Donald Trump is quite willing to praise us and even offer us a measure of freedom–so long as we profess loyalty to him.  And his sexism, benevolent or hostile, is repulsive but predictable.  Trump does not, as some of his servants claim, treat men and women equally.  He is not, as Kellyanne Conway just claimed, just a “counterpuncher” who does not normally draw first blood.  If that were true, it would be, to give just one example, Carly Fiorina’s fault that she had the face she had.  Or perhaps it’s just that any woman who, while doing her job, finds herself in the path of what Donald wants is automatically asking for trouble in the form of shaming insults.

Scholars, playgoers, and readers have long puzzled over what Hamlet meant in Act IV, Scene II when he responded to Rosencrantz’s request (“my Lord, you must tell us where the body [of Polonius] is and go with us to the king”) by saying “the body is with the king, but the king is not with the body.”  Is Hamlet once again just speaking gibberish on purpose to feign madness, as G.L. Kittredge thought?  Or throwing out a riddle to distract us?  From what?  The very next lines, though, give a good clue: Hamlet: “the king is a thing–  Guildenstern: A thing, my Lord?  Hamlet: Of nothing.”  As Psalm 144 puts it, “man is like a thing of naught; his time passeth away like a shadow.”  Our president and would-be king, especially when he attacks women for their supposed physical frailties and bloodiness, seems to be calculating that he thereby wins approval from his most fanatical base, or that he thereby settles scores with the impenitent and seditious women, or–and perhaps most important–he puts out of mind for a little while his very own perishability.  Trump may believe that, having achieved kingship, he has become imperishable.  But the medieval theory of the “king’s two bodies” (one body as corruptible and transitory as that of every other person, but one body divine, unchanging, and incorruptible) applies to Trump just as well as it did to any of the Plantagenets or Tudors or Holy Roman Emperors, and with a twist most unflattering to Trump: his preferred forms of communication show him at his truest and most transient.  His tweets and campaign rallies are at best written in water, more often written in truly impure blood.  And if we turn to his potential policy achievements, Trump’s resemblance to the dead Polonius is almost literal: our president has been hiding his decaying self offstage, trying to avoid blame while Senator McConnell battles Schumer and the Democrats, not to mention recalcitrant Republicans.  Seems like a low-energy strategy at best, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Prince McConnell (though no Hamlet, to be fair) decided to stab whoever is lurking in the curtains, pity if it turns out to be the president.

President Trump’s denial of his own decrepitude and decay is even more worrisome in that he could take those of us fortunate enough to be younger and fairer and less obviously corruptible with him if he is still president when he feels himself truly falling apart.  I hope and believe our president is fast approaching his (political) sell-by date.  His attacks on anyone not subservient to him seem designed to ward off his consciousness of what seems close at hand: the country’s cancellation of his show.  Then and only then will Hamlet’s words make sense as: the body of the king, the external appearance of the monarch, belonged to “Donald J. Trump,” but the true and lawful kingship resided elsewhere, and has passed on to someone who will seek to restore the body politic of the United States to better health.

H/T Ernst Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies; Jerah Johnson, “The Concept of the ‘King’s Two Bodies’ in Hamlet‘”

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Trump Seduced By Youthful Frenchman

Off to gay Paree for Bastille Day, that’s our Trump!  Seduced by that firm shaker of hands Macron, eh?  No shame in leaving the swamp behind for the salons of the City of Light, Mr. President.  You claimed you were the leader of the Country Party, and that you would stomp all over the swamp-dwelling Court Partiers.  But so far it has not worked out so well, has it?  Bon voyage, and please, don’t hurry back, enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells at a really, really leisurely pace.  Go to Versailles, where they actually knew how to set up a royal court and do absolutism properly.  Believe me, you’ll be sorry when you come back.

Move Over, Mr. President! Meet Mitch McConnell, The New King Of Debt

Clever Senator Mitch has front-loaded “all the sweet stuff and delay[ed] all the painful stuff,” says Nicholas Begley in the Washington Post (quoted by Greg Sargent, Plum Line blog).  Tax cuts happen right away, even retroactively, while the deep cuts to Medicaid don’t begin until 2021.  Thanks, Mitch, for all the “Better Care.”  You are piling up debts no honest man could ever pay off.  Whether the harsh Medicaid cuts ever fully go into effect or not, the tax cuts for the rich are designed to be permanent.  You have just made our glaring inequalities even worse.  Do you really believe this bill increases liberty and freedom–of course you don’t.  You know full well from seeing Obamacare work in your own state of Kentucky that, as Josh Marshall summarizes, the ACA “took a pot of money and plugged it into the system to provide secure coverage for a large number of Americans who were neither destitute nor solidly in middle class or who had medical statuses which made it onerous or impossible” to get coverage.  “Take away the money and those people all lose their care.”  Your version of freedom–or the version you cynically pretend to believe, more likely–is a truly sickening fantasy.  Compared with “other” advanced and civilized countries, our taxes are not crushing.  The real snowflakes: your greedy donor class.

And against all kinds of evidence, many people still say “give Trump a chance.”  I get that trolling “snowflakes” and “elites” is a thrill, but if this bill means Trump is delivering for them, our Country is devolving even faster than I thought, and not in a good way.  Trump will not abide blame for any of the carnage and premature death that follows.  I do hope that enough people will be hurt or embarrassed or shocked by GOP rapaciousness to bother to vote next year, when everybody, not just the folks in Georgia or Montana or South Carolina, gets a chance to express buyer’s remorse over our sorry bunch of legislators.

Will King Trump Protect Us From Oligarchy And Ochlocracy? And Escape Blame Yet Again?

Shall we skip all the fake news and go straight to the Senate healthcare–and-by-the-way-big-tax-cut–bill?  Will Trump sign this bill, even though it is probably just as “mean” as Paul Ryan’s House bill?  Trump managed to appeal in 2016 to both the pro-oligarchy voters and the pro-ochlocracy (endless demands from the plebes) voters.  Now he will have to choose.  Master brander that he is, he will try to distract and evade blame no matter what, but the McConnellCare bill guts Medicaid in the name of freedom.  The struggling Trump voters, and even relatively well-off Trump voters, who think Medicaid only benefits THOSE people are in for a surprise.  Maybe not right away, McConnell is figuring not on his watch, but sooner than many voters think, they are going to find their parents kicked out of nursing homes and into their spare rooms, or worse.  Will Trump realize before he signs a bill that presidents do get blamed for the consequences of their actions?  (Not to mention stuff that they really shouldn’t get blamed for.)

Republicans have persuaded millions of fairly prosperous but more-insecure-than-they-may-know voters that the real governmental problem is “ochlocracy,” or never-ending-demands from the masses of “other” and undeserving people.  In fact, the US stands alone among advanced economies in its stingy-and-inefficient-at-the-same-time healthcare system.  A universal risk pool could really cut down on overhead costs, but we just aren’t ready to go there yet.  Obamacare took several right-of-center (Heritage Foundation before Jim DeMint) ideas and some technocratic ideas and made giant steps toward access to health care, but did not create a robust public option, let alone move toward a Medicare-for-all system.  Now the Republicans are on the verge of a huge cutback of healthcare access, and at the same time a huge tax cut for the wealthy.

If you believe we do not have enough inequality of wealth and opportunity, McConnell and Ryan are your guys.  If you thought Trump would usher in a golden age of terrific healthcare for everybody, you may be out of luck.  Ciao ciao sayonara ochlocracy, hello even-more-rock-solid oligarchy.  And Mr. Trump, will he be blamed?  I thought he was toast when he disrespected POW John McCain, so what do I know?  Prince Harry may say nobody wants to be king, but he doesn’t know our Trump.

You May Not Be A Snowflake, John Dowd, But How Do You Like Representing One?

I believe John Dowd, 76-year-old lawyer and ex-Marine, when he says in a Reuters interview that he is not a snowflake.

And yet, he is representing a world-class snowflake, our president.  How do you feel about that, Mr. Dowd?  When snowflake Trump yells at you and blames you and tells you to get off his lawn, will you go quietly like the tough guy you say you are?  Good, because I don’t want to hear you or any other servants of Trump whining about how badly he treats you.  And I sure don’t want to hear you covering for Trump when his snowflakeness goes even further over the top than it has already.  You may not think you are a snowflake, but you lie down with one and you are not going to escape waking up covered with icy white Trump poop.

Even The Queen Has Abandoned “Keep Calm And Carry On”

Among the innumerable parodies of the “keep calm and carry on” slogan are several variations on “keep calm and realize you’re not good enough.”  But now, after the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington, London, the keep calm slogan itself doesn’t seem good enough anymore.  Since a copy of the World War II propaganda poster was rediscovered by a bookseller in Northumberland in 2000, “keep calm and carry on” has become an all-purpose meme, seemingly infinitely adaptable.  It felt, to many, particularly appropriate and even uplifting last month after the suicide terror attacks in Manchester and London.

The quasi-official voice of establishment Britain, The Times, points out today that while “keep calm” has “served as a self-consciously British summary of what to do when times get tough,” and that “Theresa May seems to have adopted it as her mantra in the worst week of her career,” “the mantra is not equal to the moment.”  And after the tower fire keeping calm and carrying on has become, seemingly even to Queen Elizabeth, an inadequate response to the grim reality of avoidable mass death in a high-rise abutting the wealthiest  parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom.  “The Queen’s Official Birthday 2017” statement, published today, says that “today is traditionally a day of celebration.  This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood.  In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies….During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need….we are…determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.”  The queen’s birthday statement also claims that “put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity.”  She is of course not suggesting that the British replace calm with panic.  Instead, her statement lifts up the importance of responding to adversity “without fear or favour,” a phrase with ancient Latin roots (“sine timore aut favore”) that is part of the British oath of allegiance .  She does not single out any particular politicians of opportunism or cowardice, but she (or her advisers) do not need to.  The shockingly urgent tone of the birthday message resounds more without specific accusation, at least for today.  But the spirit of “without fear or favor” will demand reckonings before long.  As an American, I say all this knowing that we are probably in even direr need of acting without fear or favor if we are to save our own institutions, liberties, and culture from the barbarisms resulting from inequality and neglect.  We Americans (like the Scottish police, by the way) do not take an oath of allegiance to the sovereign, but we surely need to honor the substance of that oath, to “do right to all manner of people…without fear or favour,” that is, we need to learn and relearn the impartiality that our current regime seems to want desperately for us to forget and abandon.

 

Why Invoke Executive Privilege When You Can Just Flip Off The Constitution And The People Too

Of course Attorney General Sessions, while obfuscating, didn’t invoke executive privilege while testifying today before the Senate Intelligence Committee, because of course President Trump (whose name  it is an honor and blessing simply to be allowed to mention, as we all learned yesterday) did not and will not invoke executive privilege.  That is because Trump is no mere ordinary U.S. President.  His grandiloquent eminence precludes any stooping to invocation of privilege. More to the point, Trump already knows all the details, all the Russian connections.  No need to inquire or investigate as far as he cares.  David Simon’s June 8 Twitter thread lays out the case for Trump’s guilt as well as anything I have read or heard.  When an innocent person would look toward the door in expectation, Trump looks only at his nails, never at the door…

Jeremy Corbyn High-Fives Ruth Davidson, Nicola Sturgeon, And Arlene Foster

So Jeremy Corbyn walks into a pub and sees three politicians standing together at the bar: Ruth Davidson, Nicola Sturgeion, and Arlene Foster.  He senses the opportunity to form a government.  He approaches the three and starts to high-five Ruth Davidson…

For an all-expenses paid scholarship at Oxford University’s PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) program, finish the sentence above; state who the Prime Minister will be in three months time; finally, compare and contrast the manifestoes of Lord Buckethead and that imminent PM.

Since Trump Won’t Stump Up He’s Sure To Get Rumped Up

Our U.S. President showed again this week that he refuses to stump up for anything or anyone.  Every problem is someone else’s fault.  His problem isn’t really James Comey.  His problem is that he never acknowledges he owes anybody anything.  That is a big part of why he had, according to some reports, to turn to Russian banks to fund his schemes and/or bail him out–because, reportedly, American banks got tired of his repeated refusals to stump up.  No, we don’t know all, or most, of the details yet.  Maybe we never will.  But we do have the big picture, if we are willing to face up to it.  We have a legitimate but apparently deeply compromised president.  Better to admit that than to wish it away.  Exactly how Trump is going to get rumped up is quite unclear, but best to prepare as best we can by defending the checks and balances that Trump fails to respect–but that have made the US as great as it is.  You want a smoking gun?  Really?  If you cannot smell all the smoke already you might need some nose work.  Furthermore, impeachment is too good for our 45th president.  At this point the 25th Amendment (incapacity) seems more poetically just, no?

hint re rump up: try “rump up cheshire”