Trump, Shakespeare, and Willy Loman

Shakespeare would begin his Trump play with the inauguration speech. We’re now in Act 2, and the Comey sacking is a very important complication in the plot. Although the chaos of the firing and its aftermath is not what Aristotle called the peripetia, the turning point of a tragedy, it is the equivalent of the murder of Banquo in Macbeth, a brazen act that deepens suspicion.

Now, no one but a Kool-Aid swilling soul-selling Party Person (e.g., Jeffrey Lord) can dismiss that Trump has obstructed justice in the canning of Comey. After all, Trump has admitted as much on national television.

Speaking to NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump contradicted the farcical original rationale that he was just following the suggestion of the deputy attorney general who saw impropriety in Comey’s handling of the Clinton email scandal. No, Trump admitted that he had wanted to fire Comey all along: “When I decided to [fire Comey], I said to myself, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.” In other words, he canned Comey because of the investigation. Comey’s people have subsequently claimed that Trump demanded from Comey an oath of loyalty when he summoned him to dinner at the White House in the first week of the Presidency. Makes the conversation Bill Clinton had with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac seem way too much ado over nothing.

As one of my Twitter pundits put it, there’s a reason lawyers instruct their clients to keep their mouths shut.

The problem with this Shakespeare analogy, though, is that Trump lacks the stature to be a tragic figure. He’s more like Pantalone from commedia dell’arte than Macbeth or Julius Caesar. There is, however, something about him that evokes, at least in me, pity. He betrays a sort of childish vulnerability that suggests a boyhood devoid of love or attention. Like Willy Loman, he’s pathetic, not tragic. When he’s sitting down in an interview, I sense his insecurity in the shifting of his eyes and the movement of his hands.* He’s dying to be loved. Approval is his crack. He might be bigger than life, but then again he is so much less a man or woman than your average sympathetic bartender.

I suspect the peripetia is just around the corner in Act 3 when his taxes come to light.

Republicans will commence their ratlike run from Trump’s sinking ship, Spicer will continue play the role of the comic butt, and Bannon will eventually land a spot on Fox News.

In a tragedy, Bannon would hang himself.

We’re talking farce, not tragedy.


*Don’t get me wrong.  Trump is a buffoon whose brain resembles a pinball machine.  I’d love to see the above-mentioned pussy-grabbing hands stymied by a pair of handcuffs.

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