Waiting for Biden, Paul Ryan, & Reagan

Scene from "Waiting for Godot"

Scene from “Waiting for Godot”


So Democrats are waiting to find out if Joe Biden will enter the race, and Republicans are waiting to find out in Paul Ryan will run for Speaker of the House. Which calls to mind that great play about waiting.

Doesn’t the following dialogue between Vladimir and Estragon seem particularly relevant right now?

Estagon: Let’s go.
Vladimir: We can’t.
Estragon: Why not?
Vladimir: We’re waiting for Godot.

Not all Democrats are waiting for Biden, however. In fact, most seem ready to move on with Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and even Martin O’Malley after their strong debate performances the other night. If Estragon and Vladimir were Democrats, I suspect they would have left the stage by now.

The political media, on the other hand, keeps quoting “a source close to the Vice-President” and speculating on what Biden will do. Some jokester tweeted that Biden has locked up the “journalists in search of a dramatic campaign narrative demographic.” Their “source” sounds like the boy messenger who shows up late in the play:

Vladimir: Words words. (Pause.) Speak
Boy (in a rush): Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won’t come this evening but surely tomorrow.
Vladimir: Is that all?
Boy: Yes Sir.

 When they hear the boy’s ambiguous assurance, Vladimir and Estragon decide to stick around indefinitely. Here’s how the play ends:

Vladimir: We can still part, if you think it would be better.
Estragon: It’s not worthwhile now.
Vladimir: No, it’s not worthwhile now.

Estragon: Well, shall we go?

Vladimir: Yes, let’s go.
They do not move

The play may apply even more to the GOP than it does to the political media. Even if Paul Ryan were to run for the Speakership and even if he were to be elected, it’s not clear that he would represent the arrival of Godot. Just as Vladimir and Estragon are longing for a savior, what Republicans want right now is a reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, one who can heal the split between moderates and extremists and lead the GOP to the Promised Land. Godot appears to be a projected hope rather than an actual possibility.

Are miracles possible? I suppose so. At one point Vladimir mentions the two thieves who died alongside Jesus and wonders if the one who called out to him was saved. In the desolate wasteland that is the play’s setting, maybe water will flow again, the tree will blossom, and the two men will regain the sexual vigor of youth.

Then again, Vladimir acknowledges that the story of the thief shows up in only one of the Gospels so it may be unreliable. The only prospect for sexual arousal they can imagine, meanwhile, is hanging themselves, a nice symbol of the Freedom Caucus’s self destructive behavior.

For the good of the country, Republicans need to adjust to reality and stop waiting for Godot.

Tweets that Beckett would love: This from Brian Beutler of The New Republic:

Someone who knows Biden insisting that within 24 to 48 hours it’ll be Wednesday or possibly early Thursday.

David Corn of Mother Jones, meanwhile, has a whole string of tweets capturing how Biden Longing is becoming theater of the absurd:

Sources: Joe Biden would like to become president.

Sources: Biden sources don’t know what he’s going to do.

Sources: Joe Biden could be eating Chinese tonight.

Sources: Joe Biden is wearing his lucky underwear today.

Sources: Biden slept well and had a restful night.

Sources: Joe Biden and Paul Ryan Meet at Soul Cycle and Chat.

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