Donald J. Trump v. Thoreau: Has it really been two hundred years since sacred Thoreau was born?
We grew up two towns away. has it been two hundred years?
That's what Ron Charles tells us in today's Washington Post. Charles is the long-time editor of the paper's Book World. He starts his piece by naming Walden as his favorite book:
CHARLES (7/13/17): This week marks Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday, a bicentennial that emphasizes just how briefly the writer lived. He died before he was 45, but “Walden” is immortal.Before he's done, Charles recounts his history teaching Walden, and he cites his favorites passages.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately,” Thoreau writes, “to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Except for a couple of more explicitly religious works, “Walden” is my favorite book, one I’d want with me on a desert island surrounded by pond water. I also might haul along my cherished copy of Thoreau’s journal...
His favorite passages are a bit didactic for our tastes. For ourselves, we'd start with these epigrams:
This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore. I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself.To our ear and eye, that first passage captures Thoreau as at least an occasional ecstatic—as a person with the experience of being deeply happy, full complete stop, no particular reason required.
Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do not want society.
"Sell your clothes but keep your thoughts?" Truthfully, it can't always be done. But it's decent advice.
As opposed to sacred Thoreau, we have our current ruling family of grifters. We also have our terribly self-impressed liberal selves.
In this morning's New York Times, Nichaolas Kristof writes a headline which says this:
"All Roads Now Lead to Kirchner"
Effortlessly, we jotted an annotation:
We should possibly leave one road which leads, in the end, back to us. Back to the attributes which allowed our ultimate grifters to ascend to ultimate power.
Across from Kristof, Gail Collins has written her latest tongue-in-cheek pseudo-column. If President Donald J. Trump starts World War III today, Collins will have a tongue-in-cheek, quiz-themed column ready for Sunday's editions.
She may include a Seamus reference. This too is how our grifter clan ascended.
Thoreau recommended selling your clothes. The New Republic has now published this lengthy report about laundered money and Trump.
The money may have been hard to trace. The basic gong-show was not.
This president made himself the King of the Birthers in 2011. He kept this gong-show going for the next five years. This is how out treasured liberal institutions reacted:
On July 2, 2016, the New York Times finally did a full-length, front-page report about Trump's history as a birther. Even then, the paper was too timid to ask the obvious question:
Hadn't it always been a lie when Trump said he'd sent agents to Hawaii, and that they were shocked, just shocked, by the things they'd discovered?
In the midst of last year's campaign, the Times still refused to ask. Our career liberal heroes, knowing the rules, agreed to avert their gaze.
Anderson Cooper ran and hid from this entire topic. When he interviewed Candidate Trump, he played a cross between Trump's pool boy and his caddie. He never questioned the birther scam. Donald J. Trump got a pass.
When Trump announced in June 2015, Rachel Maddow made a point of saying she had nothing against him. The gentleman had been Birther King for four years at that point.
Earlier this year, MSNBC hired Greta Van Susteren away from Fox, where she had served, for years, as official hostess/enabler to Trump's birther musings.
Maddow devoted a segment to telling us liberals how great Greta was, and that they were great drinking pals.
What kind of person does that?
We liberals! We're slow, undisciplined, self-deluded and spectacularly dumb. We sell our suspicions, and buy entertainment on our cable TV.
There's nothing we like more than being conned. If we might borrow from sacred Thoreau:
This will be a demagogic evening, with Our Own Rhodes Scholar weirdly grinning and displayed her practiced hand jive.
Also this grifter pair: Early in 2016, Joe and Mika finally flipped on their long-time buddy, Trump. He wasn't the Trump they'd always known, they have sometimes said.
By that time, the Trump to whom they'd pandered and fawned had been Birther King for four years. What kinds of con men behave this way, while getting a total free pass?