Tag Archives: politics

Trump and Gazing into the Abyss

Ted Cruz said that, if Donald Trump is the GOP nominee, we would be gazing into the abyss. For what this would be like, I turn to Milton, an expert on abysses.

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Ted Cruz as Lucifer, “Squat Like a Toad”

After John Boehner compared Sen. Ted Cruz to Lucifer, I went looking through “Paradise Lost” to find passages that would apply. If found a particularly good one but, if you ask me, Cruz more resembles Blifil, Tom Jones’s nemesis.

Posted in Fielding (Henry), Milton (John), Shakespeare (William), Stoker (Bram) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Limbaugh’s Clinton-Ratched Comparison

Rightwing radio host Rush Limbaugh regularly compares Hillary Clinton to Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and, in so doing, can be said to have paved the way for misogynist Donald Trump. If it’s Trump vs. Clinton in the general election, things will get ugly.

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Bernie Is Peter Pan, Hillary Is Wendy

Bernie Sanders is the adventurous Peter Pan, Hillary Clinton is the cautious and pragmatic Wendy. Which candidate you prefer may be related to which character you like better.

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Christie as Prufrock & Other Lit Allusions

Political pundits have been turning to literature to talk about the GOP primaries. This past week saw citations of Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, Lewis Carroll, and Richard Adams (“Watership Down”).

Posted in Adams (Richard), Carroll (Lewis), Eliot (T.S.), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

History’s Zigzagging Narratives

This Stephen Dunn points out how we see history as a series of narratives. Sometimes are heroes are those “too unhappy to be reasonable.”

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Clifton, Ellison Help Explain Whitesplaining

White politicians, if they want the Black vote, must be cautious about “whitesplaining.” Lucille Clifton gives us insight into the insensitivity in “note to self.” Brother Jack in “Invisible Man” is racially insensitive in this way and may have lessons for certain Bernie Sanders supporters.

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Prospero and the Presidential Primaries

Think of Shakespeare’s “Tempest” as an allegory for the current state of American politics, especially the presidential primaries. It contains visionaries and cynics, orchestrators and disrupters. If Prospero is the island “establishment,” then he enjoys some success but it is qualified.

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On the Death of a Controversial Judge

How long should one pause following the death of a public figure like Justice Antonin Scalia before considering the political implications? It’s an issue that also arises in Anthony Trollope’s “Barchester Towers.”

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Brecht’s Working Class Revenge Fantasy

Many working class and lower middle class Americans have felt abandoned by the GOP and Democratic establishments. Bertolt Brecht’s “Pirate Jenny” articulates a revenge fantasy that captures some of their anger.

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Cruz’s Contortion of Cristianity

Bill Moyers has called Ted Cruz a “fundamentalist charlatan,” and he cites an 18th century satiric poem to help him make his case. Cruz, he says, is contorting a beautiful religion to garner votes.

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An ANTidote for Apocalyptic Talk

Depressed by all the doom and gloom being voiced in the presidential primaries? Here’s a Scott Bates poem about an apocalytptic antichrist ant to lighten you mood.

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Sarah Palin as Daisy Buchanan

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, speaking for moderate Republicans who are being driven from the party, sees himself as Jay Gatsby jilted by Daisy. Sarah Palin was once his Daisy and Donald Trump could be compared to Tom Buchanan.

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Ted Cruz–Dark and Satanic?

When NYT columnist David Brooks called Ted Cruz “dark and satanic,” he was referencing a Blake poem. But although the allusion is apt, it struck most people as weird or offensive because they didn’t recognize the source.

Posted in Blake (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump as Yeats’s Rough Beast

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar accuses Donald Trump of being the actual terrorist and compares him to Yeats’s “rough beast” in “The Second Coming.”

Posted in Yeats (William Butler) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gaskell Novel Explains Trump’s Appeal

The anger of John Barton in Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1848 novel “Mary Barton” resembles the anger of many Trump supporters.

Posted in Gaskell (Elizabeth) | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Climate Inaction Will Lead to a Dystopia

If we refuse to do anything to counteract climate change, we are doing grave injustice to our children and grandchildren. Russell Hoban’s post-apocalyptic fantasy “Riddley Walker” captures the selfishness that we would be guilty of.

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Speaker Paul Ryan in Literature

I’ve written a lot about Paul Ryan and his aspiration to be a John Galt figure. Now that he is Speaker of the House, I review other literary parallels I’ve drawn over the years.

Posted in Achebe (Chinua), Carroll (Lewis), Conrad (Joseph), Dickens (Charles), Hardy (Thomas), Milton (John), Rand (Ayn) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jeb! Agonistes: An Unsettling Parallel

Does Jeb Bush resemble at the moment Samson Agonistes? His rivalry with Marco Rubio also resembles any number of Shakespeare tragedies. There’s an Oedipus parallel as well.

Posted in Milton (John), Shakespeare (William), Sophocles | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cruz as Beowulf? Try Grendel

Thursday Normally I would be delighted with a New York Times article that matched up presidential candidates with works of literature, such as Ted Cruz with Beowulf, Hillary Clinton with Persuasion, and Bernie Sanders with Around the World in 80 Days. This piece, however, strikes me as so uninformative that it’s all but useless. I’ve tried […]

Posted in Austen (Jane), Beowulf Poet, Dickens (Charles), Hardy (Thomas), Twain (Mark), Verne (Jules) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lit vs. the Evils of History–More Debate

While literature can seem helpless in the face of history’s cataclysms, it proves far more durable than the events that seem to overwhelm it.

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Ryan as John Galt–Elect Him or He Shrugs

Paul Ryan sees himself as Ayn Rand’s John Galt as he puts forth the conditions on which he will accept the Speakership of the House. The problem is that he is dealing with people who also see themselves as John Galt.

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Waiting for Biden, Paul Ryan, & Reagan

Some Democrats are waiting for Joe Biden and many Republicans are awaiting the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan. Samuel Beckett foresaw in all in “Waiting for Godot.”

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Trump, Prince Vasili, and Pure Cynicism

Prince Vasili in “War and Peace” will say anything to come out on top. He’s a lot like Donald Trump.

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Satanic Fury from the Freedom Caucus

The Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives has been behaving like Satan in “Paradise Lost.” They would be advised to see what happens to Milton’s anti-hero.

Posted in Milton (John) | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hillary before Judges Like Tolstoy’s Pierre

The Congressional Committee to Investigate Benghazi is like the military tribunal in “War and Peace” that questions Pierre. It is interested only in answers to lead to conviction.

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Misusing Metaphor in the Abortion Debates

Both sides are misusing metaphor in the abortion debates. If we want a deeper vision of reality, we must turn to literature.

Posted in Atwood (Margaret), Clifton (Lucille), Irving (John) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tolstoy and Climate Change Denial

The denial of the citizens of Moscow as Napoleon approaches the city, described by Tolstoy in “War in Peace,” resembles climate change denialism.

Posted in Tolstoy (Leo) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The GOP Debate & the Ox-Frog Fable

Last night’s GOP debate often reminded me of the fable of the ox and the frog, with people trying to puff themselves up with hardline positions to impress voters. Here’s a Scott Bates version of the fable.

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Trump as Frankenstein’s Monster

What is it about Donald Trump that brings out the literary analogies? First a Salon columnist compared him to Odysseus’s Cyclops, then the New Yorker’s John Cassidy saw him as Gulliver, and most recently Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and others have compared him to Frankenstein’s monster. I’ve written about the Cyclops parallel here, but let’s take […]

Posted in Shelley (Mary), Swift (Jonathan) | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trollope on Conservatives vs. Liberals

Anthony Trollope has wise things to say about the differences between conservatives and liberals in “Prime Minister.”

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