Dangerously, this is apt: Ron Charles is the editor of the Washington Post's Book World.
In Monday morning's paper, he said that he had spotted our own version of Lear:
CHARLES (5/29/17): By now it should be clear that the Trump administration is nothing like the ruling power of Orwell's Oceania or—another common claim—like Margaret Atwood's Gilead in "The Handmaid's Tale." The repressive governments of those imagined hellscapes are marked, primarily, not by their vast deception but by their absolute order. Flawless message control and meticulous image manipulation are the foundations of their sovereignty. Nothing could be further from the continuous upheaval that Trump wreaks.As we've noted before, we think this comparison is apt.
For literary precedent, we should skip over the dystopian novels of the 20th century, which were predicated on terrifyingly invasive management. The most prominent characteristic of our era is not the monolithic power of one party, but the erratic personality of one man. Every morning, all sides of the political establishment—his family and friends, along with "the haters and losers"—must contend with Trump's zigzagging proclamations, his grandiose promises, his spasmodic attachments.
Consequently, the best literary precedent for what we're enduring now is not the static image of Big Brother but the turbulent eruptions of King Lear. In Shakespeare's immortal tragedy, composed around 1605, we see a kingdom entirely in thrall to the fitful mentality of its leader with his "unconstant starts."
To our fitful ear, Charles treats this as maybe a bit of a lark. We're more strongly inclined to see the danger here.