by G. Murphy Donovan
Edward Albee died on 16 September. The death of America’s greatest modern playwright was obscured by the run-up to the first 2016 presidential debate. You can’t help but think of the parallels between an evening with Donald and Hillary and an evening with Albee’s George and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) in question was a real literary figure trapped in a failed marriage, a dilemma that was resolved by suicide. Woolf filled her pockets with stones and walked into a pond. Albee’s drama is supplemented by intermittent repetition of Disney’s jingle Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf.
Albee’s metaphorical wolf is illusion; or more precisely, the truth about self, marriage, family, career, and toxic relationships. Albee was no fan of conventional wisdom, human nature, or the status quo.
Albee lived as he wrote, ever the champion of the need to break the mold, embrace reality. His contempt for critics was legendary. Few journalists went one-on-one with Albee. The need to defy critics, even his father, and be his own man was the one big idea in much of Albee’s work.
All of the action in Albee’s classic feud unfolds in a single evening, similar to the drama of the 26 September argument between Trump and Clinton.
The first act of Virginia Woolf is indeed called “Fun and Games,” much like the first 30 minutes of the Trump/Clinton debate. The beginning is genial enough and then slowly succumbs to the heat of acrimony, recriminations, and hypocrisy.
On the evening of 26 September, Trump was suffocated, like Albee’s George, with issues over which he has little or no control. In the play, George was clinically impotent. In the debate, Trump was made to appear inadequate in the end.
Hillary flogged Donald with taxes, bankruptcies, family inheritance, faux racism, portly beauty queens, and Rosie O’Donnell. None of these “issues” has anything to do with domestic or national security.
Throughout, Trump’s one big idea of the campaign was obscured. Trump is the candidate of change. More of the same is Mrs. Clinton’s only game. Hillary doesn’t have a big idea.
Indeed, Hillary offers only two small thoughts for domestic and foreign policy. Both were parroted or pinched form the Sander’s campaign: no-fly zones in the Levant and “free” college/debt relief at home.
No-fly zones in Syria and Iraq are bogus because that would have USAF flying cover for the Turkish oil racket and the ISIS jihad against Damascus.
The free school/tuition forgiveness proposal is a fraud on three counts. First, no school is free. Somebody pays; maybe not the takers, but surely the makers. Whenever the American left uses adjectives like “free,’ hold onto your wallet.
Secondly, schooling at the college level is likely to benefit those who already benefit at the grade and secondary levels. Several minorities, especially blacks, seem to be immune to the opportunity of free schools. Half of black kids who begin high school do not finish and many of those that do finish require extensive and often ineffective remedial help at college.
There’s no evidence to suggest that the kids who need it most will benefit from “free” college, any more than they “benefit” from free high school. Public school is too often custodial, a waiting room for the nearest jail.
And finally, public school has been hopelessly confused with education. Charter schools, alternative schools, and private schools are all symptoms of public school failure, if test scores and school rankings matter.
The public school illusion is supported by those who don’t need it and undermined by cynics who know that, in the end, school is only an opportunity not a right.
Mrs. Clinton does not have one big idea, nor does she have any original small ideas. She does have, however, a host of failures or bad policies for which she might be pilloried: the private server fraud, Wall Street speaking fees, the Clinton Foundation hustle, open borders, the immigration blitz, regime change disasters, a new Cold War with Russia, Islamic apologists, and all those losing Muslim wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
Trump had the hammer; yet he didn’t pound his golden nail, change. He needed to illuminate Mrs. Clinton’s poor ideas; recite Hillary’s manifest failures; and emphasize the poverty of her too few new ideas.
Mrs. Clinton even managed to make Trump look like the liar on the stage; this from a woman married to a serial predator; this from a woman married to a convicted perjurer; this from a woman who lied to the Benghazi families.
The most obscene hypocrisy of the 2016 campaign is to watch either of the Clintons play the honesty or transparency cards.
At the end of the first debate, uncharacteristically, Donald Trump was left mumbling about his microphone and things he could have said but didn’t. It seems that Trump was intimidated by Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea in the first row. Trump was probably thinking of making America’s most infamous sexual predator a campaign issue, but towards the end of round one, he pulled that punch.
Nonetheless, Bill is still fair game. Clintons in the White House have embarrassed themselves and the country before and it’s a safe bet they will do it again.
Oddly enough, Hillary is capable of recognizing young black super-predators she never met, but claims ignorance of her husband’s predations. Willful indifference to Bill’s not-so-secret life as a masher is of a piece to her willful indifference to national security by using a private email server.
If the Republican standard bearer believes that either Clinton will ever spare him any personal or family indignity, then Donald, like George in Virginia Woolf, is delusional.
The last act of Edward Albee’s play is called “Exorcism.” Indeed, a defeat of the Clintons would be just that, a national purge that could signal a new beginning, an awakening from the long Clinton family nightmare.
For the moment, Trump is the only exorcist in town. Either he throws the devils back to Arkansas or the country suffers through four more years of toxic Clinton/Obama humiliations. Trump brings a hundred million souls to the debates. Now he needs to close the deal, persuade that vast audience to vote for change.
No holds barred! There are only two rounds left.
One final thought for the undecided; picture Bill Clinton Barack Obama, or both, on the Supreme Court.
Hat tip to Edward Albee (1928-2016) who never finished college, yet he insisted that we face the realities of life, relationships, careers, and especially, poor choices.
G. Murphy Donovan writes about the politics of national security