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Old 06-08-2017, 12:10 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Location: Boston, MA
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Default Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?

Again (?) the drama of the troubled, truth-challenged presidency of DT has dipped into the literary realm with today's testimony by James Comey. In response to a question from independent Angus King, Comey likened Trump's request of Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn by quoting Henry 2nd's vexing over what to do with Thomas Beckett: "Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?"

I'm far from being well-read in the classics (or any period/genre of literature - my biggest regret), but my sense is that our current political climate and, by extension, the turbulent climate the world is weathering, has many direct references to literature and perhaps there is something to be gleaned from it. Any thoughts?

I do feel like I'm witnessing (I play no part in it) a dramatic script being played out even as it's being written.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 06-10-2017 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 06-08-2017, 01:55 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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I would say the Trump presidency interlude could be written as comedy and as tragedy alike, except that DT doesn't have the wherewithal to be a tragic figure.
I'm planning to call him Benito from now on, and Stephen Bannon, Wormtongue.
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Old 06-08-2017, 02:40 PM
Woody Long's Avatar
Woody Long Woody Long is offline
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Location: Arlington, Virginia
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Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

— Karl Marx

Though no precedent tragedy comes to mind. I think there are elements of both tragedy and farce in these first months of Trump's term.

The presidency has been described as a weak office, having great power only in foreign affairs and employment of the armed forces abroad. So it's not king for a day or CEO of a business corporation. Politics is called the art of the possible. Two masters were Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. Both got things done.

Trump will continue to do what he can with executive orders. He may learn more about practical politics. I hope so, as that often involves compromise.

Last edited by Woody Long; 06-08-2017 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 06-08-2017, 06:52 PM
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Douglas G. Brown Douglas G. Brown is offline
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Pick up a copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations or the similar Oxford book of quotations at a used book store, and browse through it in your spare moments. You'll find plenty of classic insights into the human condition which can be applied to the actors in todays political circus. When you find an author who really strikes your fancy, check out the original work from the public library for a rainy weekend read.

I bet Comey pulled this quote out of Bartlett's, or off the Internet. If he drags out his testimony long enough, he'll be saying "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow."
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Old 06-08-2017, 08:14 PM
E. Shaun Russell E. Shaun Russell is offline
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Originally Posted by Douglas G. Brown View Post
I bet Comey pulled this quote out of Bartlett's, or off the Internet.
I don't know about that. While I'm loath to give him too much credit, he did attend a prestigious liberal arts college (William & Mary), which likely would have given him a fairly broad education in the humanities. It's very tempting to reduce people like Comey to one dimension, but I don't think that's always fair. I'm guessing he knew the quotation's provenance and significance.
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Old 06-09-2017, 12:07 AM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Location: Portland, OR
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The reference is so perfectly apt to the circumstance, I doubt he only chanced upon it by a casual perusal of the web or a book of quotes. Shuan said it well. Comey, who is apparently quite familiar with European history, likely has his humanist university education to thank. Besides, I do not think he deserves to be so easily dismissed. It were to be wished historical allusions might be less rare in the national conversation, and that public figures who initiate the discourse might give the public occasion to dispel their ignorance as to it.

You wonder I’ve so little wit
so as to be so often bit—
None better guard against a cheat
than he who is a rogue complete.
You watched the world corrupt so long
the innocent somehow hide wrong,
charge the redeemed each day the same,
reward their good with generous blame;
on tv hear each as a parrot:
dissembled misery, faux merit...
all masks, you name it and they wear it.
But wait, more dirt to go around,
quotes are what groveling cunning found.
No wonder you've so little peace:
in time, doubts overrun, nor cease.

To good feats, give the credit due
and think for once one tells you true.
To spurn lest one get duped unwilled
is like to die lest one be killed.
Suspicion feeds hostilities
which then segment societies.
A fraud rends, too: more than fools’ pain,
helps trust in man go down the drain.
If both keep up, before too long,
Chaos, distrust shall rule the throng;
a banished general confidence
leaves no way for benevolence.

Who knows who’ll rise out of the fetter
of yesterday, tomorrow? Better
to spurn not from default mistrust
lest we knock down when praise was just;
happier to be sometimes cheated
than not to trust with faith defeated;
better to suffer wrong than do it,
accuse not if you just intuit;
and with that, better to suppress
suspicion’s tide than tenderness.

Last edited by Erik Olson; 06-11-2017 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 06-09-2017, 08:27 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 881

To be (or not to be) cliché about it -- you can't make this stuff up.

In Comey's case, he gives every indication that, in addition to intelligence, he retains a critical amount of integrity (flaws and all) within the maelstrom that is U.S. politics and, by extension, (as I said in my initial statement) the world.

Not long ago Comey (let’s call him “JC” just for the fun of it) appeared before another committee and dramatically said it had made him “mildly nauseous” to think that his decisions/actions regarding the HC email scandal during the presidential campaign might have significantly impacted on the outcome of the election and handed it to DT. Comey and the Russians were unwitting bedfellows! You just can't make this stuff up.

As Attorney General to GB in 2004, he (Comey) acted courageously to block the illegal wiretapping taking place – euphemistically referred to as the “Patriot Act”.

Truth (and untruth) is stranger than fiction (still more cliché). We, the people, must now determine which is which. It's come down to that. Enter Robert Mueller for his time on stage…

Would it be that we are simply at a crossroad! No, the world stage is at a web-like intersection; a maze-like place in time where things become re-imagined for millennia. I’m prone to hyperbole, but for once I don’t think I’m engaging in it when I say that. Something very big is happening. There’s a tidal wave approaching (though I'm not afraid! I can always turn my back on it all and go tend my own garden. I've done it before. I'll do it again).

And to steer my thoughts back to this thread's original intent, this chapter of U.S. history will make for a much better novel, a much better stage play, then it will a movie, IMO. Ironically, the perfect novelist to write it is Tolstoy or perhaps Solzhenitsyn. I don’t know. (It also begs for an epic poem to be written, though no one would read it.)
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