Monday, August 3, 2020

Trump as an unmanly Macbeth

Double, Double, Trump’s Toil, Our Trouble by Maureen Dowd. Demon sperm meets alien D.N.A., as President Trump teeters.

Macbeth has his doubts.

But his wife taunts him about his manliness until he bloodies his country.

It’s hard to believe, four centuries after Shakespeare, that the fear of being unmanned is still so potent that it could wreck a country.

But it is. And it has.

Donald Trump’s warped view of masculinity has warped this nation’s response to a deadly pandemic. And Trump doesn’t even have a diabolical Lady MacTrump whispering in his ear, goading him about being a man. He goads himself, fueled by ghostly memories of his autocratic father.

As the Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt writes: “The tyrant, Macbeth and other plays suggest, is driven by a range of sexual anxieties: a compulsive need to prove his manhood, dread of impotence, a nagging apprehension that he will not be found sufficiently attractive or powerful, a fear of failure. Hence the penchant for bullying, the vicious misogyny, and the explosive violence. Hence, too, the vulnerability to taunts. Especially those bearing a latent or explicit sexual charge.”

Like Macbeth, the president made tragic errors of judgment and plunged his country into a nightmare. Our trust in government is depleted, and our relationships in the world are tattered. As Fintan O’Toole wrote in The Irish Times, the world has loved, hated and envied the United States. But never before has it pitied us. Until now.

Trump has always said that the whole world is laughing at us because it’s taking advantage of us. That sound you’re hearing is not laughter.

Alexander Burns wrote in The New York Times that Trump was too pathetic to be a tyrant: “Far from a strongman, Mr. Trump has lately become a heckler in his own government, promoting medical conspiracy theories on social media, playing no constructive role in either the management of the coronavirus pandemic or the negotiation of an economic rescue plan in Congress — and complaining endlessly about the unfairness of it all.”

Talk about unfair: The one thing holding the country together has been the additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits that has allowed millions to pay the rent and fill the fridge. Republicans, though, are so convinced that the few extra hundred dollars in jobless pay is keeping people from work that they are loath to renew it. Unless Congress gets it together soon and finds a way to extend the aid, the country is going to be facing a catastrophe of homelessness and need that makes these past few months look pleasant.

Now the president is threatening another crisis, tweeting that we might have to delay the election because there could be mail-in voting fraud.

In his view, either he wins or the election is rigged. He’s trying to make mail-in ballots socially unacceptable the same way he made masks socially unacceptable for the first five months of the plague.

The Washington Post reports that backlogs at the U.S. Postal Service are causing some employees there to worry that the Trump lackey in charge, a top donor, is intentionally gumming up the works just in time for the election. It is astounding the corrupt lengths the administration seems willing to go to — destroying the Postal Service to win the election. Ben Franklin would be incensed.

With thanks to Editor-at-Large Sherry

No comments:

Post a Comment