Waiting for Biden, Paul Ryan, & Reagan

Scene from "Waiting for Godot"

Scene from “Waiting for Godot”

Tuesday

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.
Silence.

 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.
Silence.
Vladimir: No, it’s not worthwhile now.

Silence.
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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  • Jonathan Rizzardi

    Great note connected these two ideas! I think what is particularly pertinent is the intensity that (at least with all Republicans I have talked to lately) the waiting game for the political right seems to reached… while still not moving forward. Beckett’s characters often embrace their Sisyphean existence (a la “Nothing to be done” in Happy Days or “We can’t” in Godot). With such dissatisfaction coming from Republican camps about the current state of the party (again, just my perception and ears) you would expect they would be changing more. Or doing something. It feels more, in the sense of absurdist playwriting, like a Pinter play – where we have the fellows from The Dumbwaiter screaming “What do you want” but without much happening.

  • Robin

    I love the Pinter reference, Jonathan. If we see it as a political allegory, maybe Gus and Ben are awaiting orders to go out and kill whoever wins the Democratic primary. But they learn, when orders come down (but from who) that Ben is supposed to kill Gus. Maybe Gus is the rightwing base and Ben has been ordered (by the Republican Establishment?) to finish him off. Maybe that’s what is wanted.

    Of course, other scenarios are equally plausible. What is clear is that we’re in theater of the absurd territory.


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