"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, August 10, 2020

Fake News–Donald Trump Ain’t Nothin’ Compared To An Aggrieved Wife

Frank and Ellen Farley had had the ideal marriage – a harmony and complementarity rarely seen; a mutual respect and admiration that went far beyond love.  They respected each other’s curiosity, insights, and observations; and for years they recounted the day’s events, told stories about their past, commented on current events, and reflected on history, philosophy and religion.  The stories were often amusing, always of mutual interest, never ponderous or self important; and once told, they floated away, smiled at for a few moments perhaps, then forgotten, unexceptional pieces of an ordinary but meaningful relationship.,

Marriage is a matter of equilibrium, and the best marriages have found ways to keep it in balance.  It must be a contract of full and equal partnership, no offense ever meant, and none taken.  Husband and wife should see themselves as joint partners in an important enterprise, neither one more important than the other; neither more significant or noteworthy.  Of course every partnership has its ups and downs and its uneven moments – words said thoughtlessly, responsibilities forgotten or inadvertently overlooked – but good marriages absorb slights like an amoeba.  They are quickly absorbed and forgotten.

Image result for images delicate balance

Some marriages start off well, but find it difficult to maintain equilibrium and parity.  One partner, rightly or wrongly, begins to take offense at little things and finds it difficult to let them slide.  The other becomes easily miffed at what he sees are not the breaches of contract, the indifference, or the neglect his wife claims.  The delicate, finely tuned and honed balance has been disrupted; and rather than reset it and begin again, both partners get so used to the rough ground of battle beneath and so preoccupied with setting the record straight that they cannot even remember what it was to swing so gracefully and evenly together.

The Farleys after many years of marriage had fallen into this state of unhappy disequilibrium; and it was Ellen who was the more aggressive and more determined to show who was boss.  This was surprising to the Farleys’ friends who had always known her as a willing, complaisant, relaxed woman.  This new role of harridan somehow didn’t fit the kind, compromising, and easygoing Ellen that they had always known.

None of this is surprising if given an objective look. It is almost impossible for two people, no matter how ideally suited, to always flow together and paddle in synchrony.  Particularly as life goes on, regrets for unfulfilled desires become niggling, obsessive, and finally in the worst of cases destructive.

Although most marriages proceed expectedly and without surprise, the way in which the ground war is fought is always interesting.  A Shakespeare critic once observed that if Shakespeare’s Histories were laid down in chronological order, one would see that the kings, queens, courtiers, princes, and pretenders to the throne all acted in the same way.  They were all territorial, ambitious, jealous, self-protective, self-interested, and amoral.  

What was interesting was the variety and diversity of ways that palace intrigues and dramas played themselves out.  There was no difference between Goneril and Regan, Tamora, Volumnia, and Dionyza; but the ways each asserted their unstoppable wills was endlessly fascinating.  Tamora out of spite for Titus Andronicus encourages her sons to rape his daughter; and once they have, she cuts out the girls tongue and cuts off her hands and feet so that she cannot report the crime. 

Goneril and Regan enlist their weakling, callow husbands, and rob their father, King Lear, of his throne, his fortune, and his respect.  Volumnia, an ambitious mother of dependent son, the Roman general and likely Emperor, manipulates him to her advantage and when he stands in her way, has him killed.  Dionyza is so protective of her daughter who is so inferior in beauty, charm, and intelligence to the daughter of Pericles, that she arranges to have her murdered. 

Image result for images tamora shakespeare titus

On a more pedestrian and less dramatic level, most women prefer to kill by a thousand cuts, to take their pound of flesh out of aberrant, neglectful husbands piece by piece, until the offending husband comes to rights or leaves.  Ellen chose argumentation and fake news.  No matter what her husband said, explained, or related, she objected, citing articles she said she had read or news reports she had seen.  

Because her husband was quick and intellectually agile, she quickly realized that she was no match for him head-to-head on logical grounds.  She had to invent her own fictitious reliable sources, expert opinions, scholarly investigations, and eye-witness accounts and arrange them together in an unassailable position. When challenged, she simply added another fabulist invention to her defense.  There was no winning an argument against her because all arguments were fake.

Which brings us to Donald Trump.  Intimates of Presidential candidate Joe Biden have advised him not to debate Trump because he, Biden, a man of rectitude, honor, and temperance, cannot possibly win against an onslaught of false, misleading, and deliberately twisted contentions.  Every modest, fact-based assertion that Biden might make would be dismissed as irrelevant, vain, and impossible.  Before Biden can take a breath, Trump’s fabulist, marvelous, vaudevillian, oversized character will explode into bombast, fanciful stories, laugh-track innuendoes and Borscht Belt jokes.

Image result for Images Donald Trump

Trump’s supporters love the man for this irrepressible mania.  They know that there are no such things as facts, and everything is a matter of interpretation, personal bias, and selective memory.  The more Democrats insist that they have a claim on the truth and can speak objectively, the more they are pilloried and lambasted by Trump.  They can’t win, and they know it.  They hope that their appeals to rectitude will be heard past the liberal enclaves of the Coasts, but most Americans are having none of it.  The world is a discombobulated, erratic, and senseless place; and who better to lead them than a man who understands this and the fallacy of the sanctimonious Left, who stands on a few basic, simple principles, and who will never waver.

Ellen Farley did not learn the power of fabulism and fake news from Donald Trump.  She came to it naturally.  Unlike Donald Trump, a man of super ego and vast self-confidence, Ellen was never quite sure of herself.  She demurred when after hours college sessions turned intellectual, pursued light professions heavy on art, fashion, and design, and learned the art of ‘working around’ – easing the debate away from its premise onto something simpler and more manageable and then changing the subject.

She found that this worked well.  Most of her classmates and colleagues were too engaged in the argument at hand to notice her diversions; and too interested in dialogue and dialectics to care about subject matter.

Ellen’s marriage to Frank was perfect, for he was never one to pursue an argument and she was always quite willing to demur.  They early on had found common ground in foibles.  They shared endless stories of people’s eccentricities, laughed at them, smiled at each other, and left each other quite happy and content. It was a relationship of live and let live, come and go, and an appreciation of the insignificant.

Neither one could remember when the delicate balance became undone.  It was obviously something Frank had done – some omission or flippant remark; something that indirectly demeaned her, upset the equilibrium, and abrogated the unspoken terms of their contractual marriage agreement.  In any case, the silly little stories that Frank related over dinner – the former stock and trade of their wonderful complicity – were challenged.  Ellen found offense in all of them.  

If they were inconsequential stories of his family and past, she dredged up contrary notions about his mother, his sister, and his childhood.  If they were consequential arguments about politics, philosophy, or religion, she was at her fabulist best, concocting counter arguments out of fragmentary bits of hearsay.   The last word was always hers because when one’s argument are based on invention, fiction, and fabulist imaginings there can be no Q.E.D. moment.  If Frank didn’t push back his chair and head for the hills, the argument would have gone on forever.

 Image result for images Q.E.D.

Not surprisingly but ironically Ellen Farley was a Trump hater, and told everyone within earshot what a liar he was, how he could never be trusted, how he was devious, manipulative, and deceitful and how he deserved the guillotine, not just removal from office.  

Equally ironically Frank, a Trump supporter who appreciated the President’s magnificent, wonderful circus act and his tweets, pronouncements, and press conferences, was angrily frustrated at the antics of his wife.  Frank, who always considered himself consistent, was nothing of the kind.  He wanted fabulism from the President and facts from his wife.

Not surprisingly, the marriage ended and as amicably as possible, but the vindictiveness  and petty tomfoolery of the marriage carried well into the lawyers’ offices.

It was too bad it all had to end this way.  The Farleys had started off so well together and were lovebirds on a Spring branch.  It was the institution that did them in, not their peculiarities.  Men were never built for marriage and women never created to put up with men. The pounds of flesh taken in every marriage differ as wonderfully as those in Shakespeare, Albee, O’Neill, and Ibsen; but that is no solace or consolation to those who begin well and end badly.

Image result for Images Two Lovebirds On a Spring Branch

In any case fake news is not all it is cracked up to be.  It has always been part and parcel of married life, politics, and religion; and only the master showman in the White House has raised it to popular attention.  The outcome of the Presidential election seems to be a foregone conclusion.   The timorous, bunkered, stumbling Biden is no match for Trump; and voters will put aside their reservations about his supposed duplicity and vote for a strong, confident, joyous leader.

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