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'King Lear and the Fool in the Storm' by William Dyce

Friday, the Wall Street Journal ran a really dumb op-ed (but we repeat ourselves), in which "musical theater composer-lyricist" Gregg Opelka explained that Donald Trump would never pressure the president of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, because Donald Trump is a boss who does stuff for himself; he'd never stoop to extortion because that would be an "admission of weakness" out of character with Trump's "character." Says he, "In Mr. Trump's world, real warriors don't connive, they conquer."

Yes, he really seems to think Donald Trump is just a guy who is too honorable to stoop to dirty tricks. But then Opelka has to go and drag Shakespeare into it, and that's when things get very stupid indeed, because Gregg Opelka misreads th' ImmortalBardofAvon as badly as he misreads Donald Trump's character. We're not all that surprised that Ted Cruz can't understand Star Trek or The Simpsons, but to see someone who apparently has a real career in The Thea-tah bollix up basic Shakespearean tragedy this badly is breathtaking.


See if you can spot the flaw in Opelka's analysis here:

If Democrats really wanted to understand the president, they would read Shakespeare's "King Lear." All the aging monarch wants is to be loved and appreciated by his three daughters. "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is / To have a thankless child," he laments about his eldest, Goneril.

Mr. Trump is Lear, and the country is the king's daughters. What wounded the king more than anything was filial ingratitude. What seems to gall Mr. Trump most is the thought that his achievements—record low unemployment, substantial tax cuts, a booming stock market, deregulation, judges -- go unacknowledged by his Goneril-Regan enemies, who instead seek to obstruct him at every turn. After a series of seemingly never-ending assaults on his dignity, Lear painfully observes out on the rainy heath: "I am a man / More sinn'd against than sinning." It isn't difficult to envision Mr. Trump saying the same.

Dude. This is not a good reading of Lear. While it's true that Lear would tell you his problems all derive from his daughters' ingratitude, that's a bit of yer dramatic irony there, since Lear's real tragic flaw is his failure to recognize that his two older daughters are conning him, and his youngest, Cordelia, loves him exactly as she should. He foolishly abdicates and divides his kingdom between the flattering Goneril and Regan, who quickly treat him like Donald Trump would treat a building contractor he owes money to, now that the work is done.

As for Lear's "I am a man / More sinn'd against than sinning," excuse us, but we have been over that before when Fox News tried to get away with doing Shakespeare. It's not meant to be taken straight at all; it's just more evidence of how delusional Lear is. The line is delivered amidst a rant in which he blames the gods for being incredibly unfair to him, and threatens to have them arrested for treason.

What is it with rightwingers getting Shakespeare wrong? We would expect far better from the theatrical arteest who -- we are not making this up -- wrote the songs for 2014's The Beverly Hillbillies: The Musical. Also, as someone noted on Twitter, Opelka really has a thing for Lear -- he also managed to invoke it in a column about grifty hedge funds. Of course.

And as we noted last year, there's one vast difference between Lear and Trump: Lear's tragedy is in coming to realize, too late, how blind and foolish he's been, both as a ruler and as a father. No way in hell Trump would ever be capable of such self-knowledge, because he has people who take care of storms for him. Not having a shred of self-awareness has worked for him so far, and that's never going to change.

Still, we suppose you could make worse use of Lear. Like maybe during the big scene when Lear dares the storm to do its worst:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Poor mad Lear could then indicate with a sharpie that forecasters definitely said it was headed to Alabama.

Also, please don't ever let Donald Trump know about the blinding of Lear's loyal nobleman, the Earl of Gloucester. He'd start demanding we start gouging out the eyes of asylum seekers as a deterrent.

OPEN THREAD FOR FLIES AND WANTON BOYS.

[WSJ]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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