What a difference a year makes. Just when we thought 2020 was the worst of all possible worlds, along comes January 6, 2021, another day that will live in infamy. A mob, incited by a sitting pretend president, takes over the US Capital for over two hours. That they respected the velvet ropes in the Senate and took videos and selfies, all maskless to be sure the FBI would have no trouble identifying them, is comic irony. That they were intent on overturning the outcome of a fair and democratic election as determined by numerous judges and courts, is tragedy. If November 9 is the anniversary of Kristallnacht – the night in 1938 when the Nazis in Germany destroyed Jewish lives, homes, businesses and synagogues while the elected leader looked on with delight – then January 6 will live on as the anniversary of an attempted insurrection by America’s neo-Nazis while the elected leader looked on with delight: “We love you! You’re very special.” The Nazis wore brown shirts; the Trumpista wore fake fur and horns. Given that the Nazis went on to murder 6 million Jews and 5 million others was the 20th century price of complicity with tyranny. Our US death toll from a mismanaged COVID pandemic is predicted to reach over 500,000. For anyone who thinks the Trump administration did a fine job managing the only major challenge to his tenure, read the Dr. Anthony Fauci interview in the January 24, 2021 edition of the New York Times.
After the election, Greenblatt was so moved that he wrote a book in 2018 on the subject: Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics. Without naming him directly, he compares Donald Trump to a host of fictional tyrants Shakespeare dreamed up including Richard III, Macbeth, King Lear, Jack Cade and others. That’s when I began to take the danger that ultimately culminated on January 6, 2021 a little more seriously. If a prize-winning author and distinguished Harvard professor was this enraged about a petty dictator wannabe, maybe there was something more serious afoot.
And now we have seen the tragedy unfold before us in its full dramatic glory live on television with dozens more amateur videos and the aforesaid selfies in support. There’s no denying an attempted coup when there’s hours of footage documenting every move, although I’m sure the Donald’s legal team will attempt to convince us that it was all fake news and that the thousands of demonstrators were all left-wing infiltrators who disrupted a perfectly peaceful Kumbaya moment. Right. And another buyer for the Brooklyn Bridge donates another few million toward the Trump “Stop the Steal” campaign. They’re still accepting donations if you’re so inclined. But I would suggest donating to your local United Way is far more effective in supporting your community.
Greene admits there are millions of links on the internet between Trump and Shakespeare, but he can’t help believing that it’s giving Trump way too much literary credibility.“…this mania for comparison depends on a thin analysis of both the president and the plays. For one thing, pundits are ignoring the traits that do not match. Richard was born disabled; Hamlet was avenging a murder. Most of the others were victorious warriors; President “Bone Spurs” wasn’t. Beyond that, the plays, with all their faults, have a profound and noble goal that Trump does not: to provide insight into life. But like most real people, only more so because of his psychological and political makeup, Trump is not capturable in that way. He does not advertently open his heart in public, and our time has not required that he make himself understood through words. (Twitter doesn’t count.) Trump remains forever impenetrable in 280-character outbursts. These comparisons are reductive — in both directions. Shakespeare’s characters are much richer and more readable than someone as unforthcoming as Trump.”
My conclusion is that the Donald yearns to be a specific Hollywood character and one that’s closer to his name: The Don, Vito Corleone. Rewatch the opening scene of The Godfather: “Bonasera, what have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? Had you come to me in friendship, then this scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by chance if an honest man such as yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you.” No bluff, no bluster, just pure understated violence and vengeance; known as “justice” in his world. Can you imagine Trump attempting to play this character? We would laugh ourselves to tears. Yes, I think Don Trump imagines himself as Don Corleone; when he really knows he’s no better than the wimpy son Fredo, whining and groping Vegas showgirls. For those of us longing for a return of the Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey extravaganzas, we know what the Clown Prince’s final words should have been as he slunk out of town. Not Shakespeare certainly, or even Mario Puzo, but those immortal words dramatically intoned at the end of every show: “May all your days be circus days!” Certainly more descriptive of his character; and suitable for Twitter at far fewer than 280 characters.