I enjoy politics. And I enjoy books. So I’ve put the two together and re-cast the 2016 presidential contenders as their literary counterparts. Today, the Republicans.
Before the weekend I had Bush playing Ignatius J. Reilly. His shuffling campaign had all the promise of a college-educated person pushing a hot dog cart around the Big Easy. Bush may be out, but it still seems appropriate to open the exercise with an homage to John Kennedy Toole’s classic treatise on the awfulness of humanity: the endless episodes of debate, the roguish demagoguery and grandstanding, the low-class dirty tricks and empty promises… all these conspire towards the feeling that watching the campaigns is like watching live picaresque. And there’s this: if Jeb is Ignatius, then Barbara gets to play his New Orleans po’ white trash mum, a deserved justice for the way she insulted the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
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Cruz and Rubio
I pair Tweddle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum as the King and the Duke from Huckleberry Finn, each trying to out-rascal the other with no regard but for their own comforts. I also see in them the creations of Charles Dickens. The anxious, uncomfortable, thirsty Rubio is like a schoolboy: more facts in his head than his tongue can keep up with. He’s an orphan lost in the adult world, an Oliver Twist: “Please sir, may I have some more?” And as one Washington Post commentator described Cruz, he’s Uriah Heap from David Copperfield: “Oily, obsequious, conniving, insincere… a real creep. And he cheats.” Just ask Ben Carson.
He’s that character you can’t remember from that book you didn’t read for that college course you’re not sure you finished and keep waking up in a sweat at 2 a.m., panicked that you don’t actually have enough credits to graduate.
Joseph. From the Bible. Which is how he knows the pyramids were built by himself to store grain, and not to bury the pharaohs as is commonly accepted. To this physician I say, “Heal thyself.” I think he may have swallowed a very large Bible.
He turns everything said about him against the person who says it. For that, Trump may be called He Who Must Not Be Named. But doing so gives him more power than he deserves. There’s nothing magical or mysterious about Trump, after all. He’s base. He’s crass. He’s a blunt object. He’s Roald Dahl’s Mr. Wormwood, a dishonest, intellectually-depraved used car salesman more likely to watch television while eating dinner—pizza, with a fork—off a tray on his lap than to develop rational policies or cavort with world leaders.
See the Democratic cast later this week. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear about how others view the Republican candidates and their literary counterparts.