Friday, January 20, 2017

What do you do when the jester IS the king?

On this dark day in the history of our Republic, I happened to come across an article on Evan McMullin's continuing role as a Trump gadfly. He certainly seems to have gotten under our narcissistic new president's skin. Good for him.

In the old days, the king's jester was an important person- and if he was going to do his job properly, he had to be anything but a fool. The key to the position was that precisely because he was supposed to be a blithering idiot who couldn't be held accountable for what he said, he could get away with saying anything. If there was something the king needed to hear but didn't want to, it fell to the fool to say it- humorously and protected by the fiction of his imbecility. The king heard from his fool advice that might have cost anybody else his head, and in such a way as to save face, too. A wise king chose his fool carefully, and intelligence, courage, integrity and political acumen were as important qualifications as a sense of humor.

But today, the clown becomes the king- and he is not one to abide criticism or tolerate things he doesn't want to hear. That makes it all the more important that he hear it. Donald Trump's skin is so thin that an opponent who got one-half of one percent of the vote in the recent election has become a minor obsession with him, and that puts Evan in a position to speak truth to power in the confident expectation that even if he's not heeded, at least he'll be heard.

Molly Hemingway of The Federalist, for whom I have a great deal of respect, is right in being a little exasperated at how pointed and sometimes petty Evan gets in his ongoing mission to hold our Mr. Trump embarrassing new president up to the ridicule a narcissist like our embarrassing new president cannot abide. I don't recall who it was who said that one should never ascribe to malice or other unworthy motives what stupidity can adequately explain, and Evan seems to violate that rule all too often.

I don't know what the future holds for Evan. He may run for the Senate from Utah. Maybe he'll run for president again in 2020.  Even if Trump is impeached by then, I hope we have some option other than Ted Cruz and whatever equally shrill partisan the  Democrats nominate, and we could do much worse than Evan. But even simply getting under the skin of the Narcissist-in-Chief is a public service. The Alt-Right and those elements of the Trump coalition that are more craven than crazy are all feeling their oats today,  and anyone who can take them down a notch is performing a public service.

Even when the king is the clown, he needs somebody to tell him what he doesn't want to hear.

No comments: