Mr. Sunshine and the Perishing Republic

A friend of mine referred to me as a ray of sunshine. She was of course being sarcastic because I am not. Ordinarily, on the best of days, I inhabit a Medieval city of my imagination where cutpurses and muggers lay in wait and a walk home is an exercise in danger.


During a political campaign such as the Presidential charade of 2008, my normally dark disposition goes even darker, to what the British psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion called "a beam of intense darkness" cutting through the falsity of sweetness, light, and even hope itself. The poet Robinson Jeffers' vision is of a nation caught in a mine cave-in, swamped by its own vulgarity. It recalls for me the dying Antonio in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi: "And let my sons flee the courts of princes." By the way, that's Malfi,  not Melfi, as in the hottie psychiatrist on The Sopranos….

Shine, Perishing Republic

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While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening
to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots
to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence;
and home to the mother.

You making haste, haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it
stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the
thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there
are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant,
insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught -- they say --
God, when he walked on earth.

What separates me from most of my "fellows" is an overwhelming belief in life as a tragedy from which we cannot escape but through which we can only persevere…or choose, foolishly, to escape by artificial means. We can go back and psychoanalyze me to see why I would feel this way, but it's not important.

Last night the Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama locked up the Democratic Party's nomination for President. This gives him the right to face a foolish old man named John McCain, a man whose intellectual gifts make George W. Bush look like King Solomon. McCain's only claim to fame is that he spent a long period as the prisoner of the North Vietnamese in what is called a tiger cage. RadicLib through I am, I honor him for his service, even if it was in yet another war we created by sticking our snouts where they did not belong (maybe the American icon should be a three-legged whippet).  And in the present context I ask, after 40 years, so what? How will he govern now?  Can he tell the same lie consistently about his positions?

I have heard of people of learning and intelligence who worked on Barack Obama's Senate campaign who came to deeply respect him. I hope they are right.  Because I have to vote for him, but also because I fear for Sen. Obama's life.  I do not believe America is ready for a black President and that forces in this country will work to prevent it from happening. I know one person too many who refers routinely to Obama as "Bahama Mama" and "the nigger." In the same way that Hillary brought out the American Great Unwashed of guys who wanted her to iron their shirts, in the same way a  collection of Nascar Dads I fear is secretly rooting for something permanent to happen to Obama that takes him out of the race.

Maybe they really want Mike Huckabee after all. Or how about Rulon Jeffs?

I have said to people that Hillary was suspect because she wanted the Presidency a bit too much, and anyone who wants something that much is probably not suited to have it. Let us go a step further. Obama burned for the job as much as Hillary. I don't think she lost because of sexism, misogyny, or any of the other faith-based initiatives (the real ones) of American society. I believe she lost because she revealed a lust that would sweep anything before it. I believe that lust went back to her husband's first term, and it hasn't abated yet. Yet, look at the greater system that encourages and even demands such monsters. Candidates bewhore themselves for years before the general election. They develop a not-so-magnificent obsession with having a job for which no life experience can prepare you because it is unlike any other on earth. They want it because they want it and sooner or later come to believe that they deserve it. It happened to Hillary long ago. It's happened to Barack Obama in the last year-plus.  Every candidate who runs for the Presidency renders himself or herself undeserving, unscrupulous, and clutching. Every candidate behaves like a Medieval English aspirant for the monarchy. Henry IV displaced Richard II, and it was not pretty. How far have we advanced?

Yet we continue this chain-chain-chain, chain of fools that began long enough ago that only a "real" historian of the Presidency can speak of the great tidal shift. One can sit back today and see the nearly final erosion of a process that began with hope and with ideas and now has neither.


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