Robert Kagan, who disgraced himself by endorsing President Obama’s disgraceful nuclear weapons deal with Iran, and then by blasting Bibi Netanyahu for opposing this existential threat to his country, took to the Washington Post’s Sunday opinion page (February 28, 2016) to announce his disgust with Donald Trump, and the Republican Party and its “pundits and intellectuals” who enabled him.
Nota bene all you soi disant “pure” conservative pundits who are shouting for all who have not already denounced Donald to denounce him now, without delay. To denounce not only his supporters but also those who refuse to denounce his supporters. It’s not enough for you that one is neutral on the matter. One must prove one’s bona fides or be exiled from all your clubs, like Satan from Eden. Note that you haven’t earned a coveted pass from the liberal in-crowd. You are Republicans, and you haven’t recanted your “Obama hatred,” your “racially tinged derangement syndrome” and your disdain for “political correctness” which, as every good liberal knows, is a “dog-whistle.” You are to blame, you always were and you always will be. Until you, like Robert, announce that you’ll vote for Hillary. Which some of you have already threatened to do.
Robert describes himself as a “former Republican.” Really? Robert was once a Republican? Maybe for a short time during the Bush administration when his brother Fred was advising W about the necessity of a “surge” in Iraq. The surge was successful, and it was a good time to be seen to be a Republican.
But then things changed. Barack Obama took office and Robert’s wife, Victoria Nuland, was to play a prominent role in his administration. She drew up the administration’s notorious talking points that blamed the 2012 Benghazi attack on a video. In 2014 she was caught on tape using very crude language to diss the EU: “F–k the EU,” she’s heard to say, a sentiment with which I don’t disagree, but her intent was to promote the notoriously corrupt UN instead as a mediator in the Ukraine mess. These were good years for Robert to be seen supporting Obama, to be seen to be a Democrat. When times change, affiliations sometimes have to change with them.
Robert compares the Republican Party to Oedipus, who sought to discover the cause of the plague in Thebes only to discover that he himself was responsible, having committed the crime that brought down the wrath of the gods. In Robert’s telling, Oedipus is played by the Republican Party, and the plague by Donald Trump. The analogy doesn’t quite fit, however.
Oedipus was born to fulfill a harsh destiny: to unwittingly kill his father, marry his mother, bring down a plague upon the city of Thebes and, most importantly, solve the riddle of the Sphinx and thereby free Thebes from his her dark and cruel reign. Her riddle is quite simple: What goes on fours in the morning, on twos in the afternoon and on threes at night? Unlike those preceded him, Oedipus gets the answer. It’s man, who crawls as a baby, walks upright as an adult, and uses a cane as a senior. Gods are apt to get very upset when their riddles are solved, and so Oedipus must die a terrible death.
What’s interesting about the story, though, is why Oedipus was able to solve the riddle where so many before him had failed. Thebes even had a resident seer, the blind Tieresias who had the ability to communicate with birds and learn the future from them. Why was Tieresias, in all his years of residency at Thebes, unable to help his city? How could an ordinary guy like Oedipus accomplish what the gifted seer could not?
Here’s the reason, as I see it. Tieresias’ esoteric knowledge did not come from observing the world, which he could not do as he was blind. He looked for answers inside himself and drew a blank. Oedipus looked at the world around him and used his wits to figure out the answer to the riddle. In my interpretation, Tieresias represents the intellectual class, believing they can solve the world’s problems from their ivory towers, without actually looking at what’s happening in the world. And Donald Trump is Oedipus.
“A rising tide raises all boats,” says our modern Tieresias, referring to capitalism as it’s practiced today in America. “But it hasn’t done so,” observes Trump, “and the American middle class has been hollowed out over the years. It can’t rise because of all the obstacles a ruling class has placed in its way — a regulatory mess, a crazy litigation system, bad schools, a terrible immigration system, a health insurance system that restrains competition by not allowing for portability of plans across state borders.
“Free trade is good, but it has to work to preserve jobs for our people. Folks need to be able to take care of themselves, but a civilized society doesn’t allow people to die in the streets. Immigration is good, but let’s maintain our sovereignty and the rule of law that protects it.
“And let’s not make the mistake the neocons made when Robert was one of them. Let’s not put boots on the ground in Syria to support the so-called ‘freedom fighters’ or ‘rebels.’ Everyone knows that they’re an amalgam of bad guys, and if they succeed in deposing Assad now, Syria will be fertile ground for the Muslim Brotherhood. It’ll be Egypt before Al Sissi. So let’s not start a war with Russia.”
Personally, when it comes to defending Western civilization, I trust Russia more than I trust Obama. Putin was convinced to put boots on the ground in Syria when the Patriarch of Antioch appealed to the Russian Patriarch to intercede with Putin to protect what remains of Syria’s Christians.
Obama doesn’t give a damn about Christians. So let’s co-operate with Putin in a way that doesn’t put our soldiers at risk.
Tieresias hasn’t noticed what’s going down in America or the Middle East, or if he has he pretends not to notice, especially if he desires the good opinion of those in a future Clinton administration. Like the Moderns in Swift’s Battle of the Books, the modern Tieresias is busy spinning stories from his own entrails. But Donald, like Oedipus, is just a regular guy. He’s observed the reality around him and solved the riddle of the Sphinx, and for this he must die.
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