bardseyeview

A Shakespearean Glance at the People and Issues of the Day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Henry VI and the US Senate

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In Act IV of Henry the VI Part One, the English are getting the stuffing kicked out of them by a girl, and not only a girl but a French girl, Joan of Arc. There can only be one reason (besides witchcraft on her part) – internal dissension. The seeds of the War of the Roses have (earlier) been sown, with different English nobles wearing red or white roses to show allegiance to either York or Lancaster. The weakened king, his poll numbers in the high thirties or low forties, and unable to command a majority of the congressional nobility even for such domestic priorities as Alaskan drilling, now faces division in his ranks even over the war. Presidential spokesperson Sir William Lucy addresses Majority Leader Frist of the senate, I mean the Earl of Somerset:

Lucy: "….Lord Talbot,
Ringed about with bold adversity,
Cries out for noble York and Somerset
To beat assailing death from his weak legions;
And whiles the honorable captain there
Drops bloody sweat from his war-wearied limbs
And, in advantage lingering, looks for rescue,
You, his false hopes, the trust of England's honor,
Keep off aloof with worthless emulation.
Let not your private discord keep away
The levied succors that should lend him aid…".

The United States Senate, which is ostensibly in the hands of the same political party as the President, voted yesterday to require the administration to report periodically on its progress toward the goal of exiting Iraq. One had thought that the goal was victory. Somerset, today played by Frist, advertised his appeasement of the forces of capitulation by claiming to have averted a Democratic Party proposal to require a specified timeline for withdrawal. Such a proposal, of course, would have been defeated if tabled. But rather than table and defeat it, Frist offered a compromise whose difference from the defeatist Democrat proposal only well-trained lawyers will understand.

Certainly Joan of Arc, portrayed today by the mad bomber Zarqawi, will have no trouble reading the weakness of his opponent in this act:

Joan: "Glory is like a circle in the water,
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself
Till by broad spreading it disperse to naught,
With Henry's death the English circle ends;
Dispersed are the glories it included,
Now am I like that proud insulting ship
Which Caesar and his fortune bare at once."

So speaks an emboldened Zarqawi. Meanwhile, back among the keystone cops in Washington DC, Senator Frist, carrying water for the defeatists, takes the floor:

Som: "York set him on. York should have sent him aid."

The Democratic Party, and now a craven majority of pollward-glancing Republican senators, have spoken. Even as our troops, young men in their twenties, well-trained, valorous and far from home, conduct close combat operations in terrorist infiltrated residential areas along the Syrian border. Meanwhile back in the senate the Democrats careen from supporting Lancaster and Clinton in Bosnia to opposing York and Bush in Iraq, while the Republicans, with only eleven honorable exceptions, careen from opposing Clinton to supporting Bush and now to opposing Bush:

Som: "York lies, He might have sent and had the horse,
I owe him little duty and less love,
And take foul scorn to fawn on him by sending."

To WMD or not WMD, that is the question. But is that the only question? What of the moral advance represented by this new 21st century policy of ending holocausts, and which, to give President Clinton credit, follows his Bosnian precedent of doing the same? Why does this proud crossing of a moral Rubicon go unremarked? It is as though the old 20th century policy of arriving afterward to count the skulls, in the Ukraine, in Germany and Poland, in Uganda, in Cambodia, in Rwanda, is to be preferred, and looked back upon with a nostalgic throb.

Lucy: "The fraud of England, not the force of France,
Hath now entrapped the noble-minded Talbot.
Never to England shall he bear his life,
But dies betrayed to fortune by your strife."
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