Macbeth to Trump: “It Doesn’t Turn Out Well.”
The presidential transition thus far is a drama straight from the Bard’s darkest tales
I think it’s fair to say that most Americans — and, frankly, most citizens of the world with access to some degree of news and information — are glad the 2020 election is, for the most part, all over but for the sore-loser shouting “Stolen election!”
As I write this, on the Monday after the election was called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the Trump administration (really, mostly Trump himself) is doing its best to throw a wrench in the works and prevent the Biden transition team from getting underway with what has, until now, been a very orderly changing of the guard. I have been a part of transition teams, and I’ve been a part of planning presidential inaugurations, so I know very well what must be done in the two short months between now and Noon, January 20, 2021.
The simple fact of the matter is that Trump just doesn’t want Joe to ride that horse…ever
The Trump people know as well that a systematic review and exchange of bureaucratic protocols between now and the inauguration is critical to the incoming president’s administration’s ability to take the reins the moment Joe Biden completes his oath of office. The simple fact of the matter is that Trump just doesn’t want Joe to ride that horse…ever. And he cannot stand knowing that he will, in the end, lose out to the forces of power in Washington that will assure Mr. Biden’s place behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.
In the end, Joe Biden’s Inauguration will happen on time
I can promise Mr. Trump right now that even his Republican party stalwarts in the Senate will ultimately come down on the side of transition — they have no choice. The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), the Military District of Washington (MDW), the Senate and House leadership, and the House and Senate press galleries will press down harder and harder every day in order to get the show on the road, and if Trump stands in the way much longer, he will be trampled by destiny and a lot of pissed off people.
If there is any one in leadership who has the ability to shake Trump free of his hatred for Biden (and, really, let’s be clear, Obama), I commend them to read Macbeth’s soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 7, in which Macbeth, contemplating the assassination of Duncan, says,
If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly: if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’ld jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison’d chalice
To our own lips.
What Shakespeare is saying here is that the evil you wish on others will become the evil you will one day visit upon yourself.
As Macbeth continues his inspection of the plot to kill Duncan, he admits that as much as he wants to do the terrible deed and do it quickly, justice will find him out, and his end will come as a result of his own plot to advance his ambition:
Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubim, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself
And falls on the other.
At least Macbeth understood Duncan to be a good king
If there is any difference between Trump and Macbeth, it is that Macbeth at least recognized Duncan (Biden) as a good and capable man (which impressed Macbeth as much as Biden’s character galls Trump), and it is Duncan’s goodness of heart which tears at Macbeth in his soliloquy. Ah, but ambition hath its peril, eh, Trump?
Through his intense hatred of all things related to Obama, now transmogrified by election into Biden, Trump is desperate to do the worst he can to Biden — which, while thankfully is not assassination (though other, rougher actors spurred on by Trump, do imagine that device), still consists of a half-baked plan to hinder Biden’s lawful succession by whatever means available to him, including withholding orders (and money) for the transition, and by firing key players in the Trump administration, making the transition even more difficult.
In the end, even if there was someone who could impart the meaning of Macbeth to Trump, there is still Trump…who cares nothing of Shakespeare and would refuse to believe parallels to Trump and his family so often found in the Bard’s works.
Trump will fight the forces arrayed against him for as long as he can (beware Act 5, Scene 8, Don…and be glad there is no Macduff in this fight you are going to lose), and Biden’s folks will eventually get on with the transition and prepare for January 20 with or without the Trump administration’s help.