Those of us who blog owe it to ourselves as well as our readers to post compelling material as best we can. We may not always succeed but that should not diminish our efforts to do so. In that vein we should also be willing to avail our blog to others whose material meets the standards of good writing that informs as well as entertains and thus alters somewhat our perspective of how we see things. It need not always be serious in nature. In fact, I think writers infect a greater audience about certain realities in our world when they employ humor.
So I submit the following piece from Kara, the nom de plume of an individual who characterizes himself as a “family Guy/American Dad/TCS Producer/Citizen of the World. He also explains that his opinions are his own, “and do not NECESSARILY reflect Fox’s positions or opinions.” He posts regularly on the HumorOutcasts.com blog I subscribe to and on occasion contribute to.
In this piece entitled “More Terrible than Fiction Update – Polonius from Hamlet and John McCain”, Kara shows us a remarkable comparison between the Shakespearean character of Polonius and his contemporary, John McCain. It is both clever and insightful about a man who has fallen from a status that he perhaps never should have been elevated too. But first, this short feature presentation of Kara’s on Sarah Palin Enjoy.
What fiction writer – if any – could have conceived of Sarah Palin without completely blowing the boundaries of reality? Dickens? Shakespeare? Ruth Rendell? In children’s fiction, maybe, where a parodic lunatic still has its place. It’s not really in grown-up literatures nature to have stone cold villains, coal-black embodiments of evil. Serious literature has no shortage of killers, molesters, kidnappers, cannibals, misanthropes, black widows, bloodsuckers, pederasts and politicians…and there are plenty of literary counterparts to modern assholes (change Italy to Iraq in Catch-22, and Milo is Dick Cheney and Colonel Cathcart is George W), but of the snidleliest whiplashes ever to have bound sweet damsel to train track, has any serious writer of novels ever conjured up a sub-literate rube from a weird, frozen tundra, a vicious “hockey mom” to 5 terrible children who shoots wolves from helicopters? Or a character as farcical as “Anne Coulter”, or as grotesque as Roger Ailes?
Polonius from Hamlet by William Shakespeare and John McCain
King Claudius’s chief counsellor and father of Ophelia, Polonius is an old fool and self-absorbed windbag whom Shakespeare referred to as a ”sincere” father, but also “a busy-body, [who] is accordingly officious, garrulous, and impertinent.” For all of his obsequious manner, Polonius must have some abilities to have attained his present high office, but will never ascend to exalted rank.
Polonius’s oratory style is overextended confidence in his knowledge, pride in his eloquence, his dotage encroaching upon his dwindling wisdom. His pomposity comes from knowing that his mind was once strong, and unawareness that it has become weak. He drones on, pedantically and impertinently, with artful turns of thought, amidst actual serious business. He is a victim of the dereliction of his faculties; he forgets what he’s taking about; loses the order of his ideas, and entangles himself in his own thoughts. His phrases are ambiguous and confusing, and he sometimes loses the thread.
Polonius poses as a wise statesman, but cannot resist childish stratagems, seeing things in black and white, discovering coverups and intrigue at every bend and acting on unsubstantiated suspicion to disastrous consequences. Nearly every event in the place results from from his ill-judged influence and the blunders he perpetrated.
Polonius likes to give “when I was your age” speeches, dishing out lame advice, overeagerly dispensing characteristic specimens of cootish pearls of wisdom in boorish fashion. His attempts at humor are bumbling and pathetic. He is inadvertently hilarious. In a dark play, Polonius is comic relief . When one of the players delivers a heart-wrenching rendering of Priam’s death and the hullabaloo to follow, Polonius interrupts to say , “This is too long.” Polonius coined the paraphrased aphorism, “Clothes make the man”.
John McCain has been called many things during his endless Washington career — “craven,” “shameless,” senile”, “amoral,” “stupid,” “drug addled,””pompous”, “world’s worst pilot” and “completely full of shit”. He is equally loathed by liberals, conservatives and the people of his alleged “home state,” Arizona. He seems brain addled, often confused, like when the avowed foreign policy expert mixed up Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or repeatedly referred to the Czech Republic as “Czechoslovakia”. Senator McCain routinely, manifestly loses his grip on the present, appearing not unlike a certain person who “could speak no sense in several languages.”
Superannuated politicians like John McCain seldom have any strength to fall back upon, so default to the resources of memory. He loves talking about his soldiering days. You know, his storied career where he routinely got in trouble with authority for crashing planes and ended up a POW because he wasn’t a very good pilot. It’s truly an inspiring tale of mediocrity and downright stupidity. He is an old man, a windbag, and out of the ashes of his extinct faculties come meaningless but sincere homespun aphorisms. as a blind man may seem to distinguish colors, so long as he refrains from speaking of the colors that are before him.”
In addition to his apparent cognitive problems, Senator McCain exhibits a distressing deterioration in his sense of decorum and propriety. He volunteered his wife for a topless beauty contest, and jigged around singing “Bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran.“ This loss of self-regulation is called “disinhibition” and can result in inadvertent hilarity. Who can forget “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Or how he was unable to answer how many houses he owns. Or when he said to his trophy wife: ”At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c*nt”. Or him sticking out his tongue at the end of the third presidential debate after getting confused and walking off the stage the wrong way. Or calling on an absent Joe The Plumber at a rally, accidentally endorsing Obama, calling his constituents “my fellow prisoners”, his general confusion, and being less than informed. Oh, and the gorilla rape joke.
McCain’s usual gracelessness is amped up by a staggering lack of self-awareness, such as his churlish whining about liberals supposedly getting favorable press coverage. McCain’s career has been unremarkable, from abandoning a seriously-injured wife in favor of a rich replacement, to the Keating Five scandal to his bone-headed selecting of Sarah Palin as his running mate, with little of real distinction to fill the gaps, except for the THREE DECADES that he has been shouting “Cover Up!” at every turn. The DC press corp’s calculated burnishing of the “Maverick” myth, puffing up his credentials, burying his scandals, and crafting a heroic public persona, made him the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, and suckered us into believing he was a “hero”, rather than an opportunistic and deeply vindictive pol who once crashed a plane. His best moment –by his own account–consisted of refusing to accept the early release offered by his Viet Cong captors. Like Polonius, McCain is a man strong in general principles, who fails repeatedly in application.
No amount of pity for the physical ordeal he endured in his youth could have compensated for the reality that John McCain is an erratic, pompous, petty and self-serving man and a notorious SOB even by Washington standards. The same man who was hanging around with the rebels, encouraging them to overthrow Ghadaffi, while calling for increase support for them is now running around blaming others for the actions of his buddies in Benghazi. The arrogant, pig-headed “war hero” has managed to turn into a lonely, sad, pathetic old man whimpering in a bitter, cold rain of his own making.
Polonius is hiding behind a tapestry in Gertrude’s room, when he gets scared and yelps for help. Hamlet draws his sword and thrusts it through the curtain. Polonius is stabbed in the gut. “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! I took thee for thy better”. – Hamlet