One of our lasting symbols of freedom has been turned into a theater. The White House has served as the home of our president since 1800 when President John and First Lady Abigail Adams moved in. Every president has lived and worked from there since. The Trumans spent a lot of time at Blair House when extensive repairs were being made to the building that we revere as the center of our country’s pomp, but were excited to return after workers finished making it new and shiny. We, as a nation, are proud of that building and show our respect by traveling to see it 1.2 million strong each year. The 132-room, 35 bathroom, 412 door, 147 window, and 28 fireplace structure serves as both the people’s house and gets as close as we have in our country to a palace.
Unfortunately, the one person who takes issue with it is its current occupant. Donald Trump assumed his best Bette Davis persona and carped to his elitist friends at his own country club in New Jersey that the place was a dump–continuing that he doesn’t really like living there. Well Sir, there are plenty of us who would rather you didn’t live there too.
When the Trumps moved into the White House, they transformed it from the seat of government into a theater for performing arts. The White House has become a replica of William Shakespeare’s, 1600s Globe Theatre showing plays, both comic and tragic.
Mr. Trump is offering a Tony quality interpretation of King Lear, the tragic king who sent his kingdom into ruin due to seeking adoration and praise from his family. There are no parallels to be made between Shakespeare’s most famous female character, Lady Macbeth, and our First Lady, Melania Trump, but there are plenty of fools and jesters involved in the day-to-day events emanating from the White House to carry this metaphor forward.
With the White House recreated as the Globe Theater, offering performances morning, noon, and night, the original function–housing the executive branch of government–has been abandoned.
Originally created by the Founding Fathers, our three-branch government is now learning to function with only two. The executive branch is completely non functional. To avoid any hint of governing, their time is spent alienating such traditions as the Boy Scouts of America with an inappropriate speech, causing our nations’ police officers to assure the public that they are not going to rough up suspects in crimes just because King Lear gives the okay to do so, forcing the Pentagon leaders of our Armed Forces to tell us that they are going to ignore a suggestion from the president about who should serve our country, and insulting our national treasure as a dump–all this in the course of a week. There is no time for governing when one’s performance schedule is so rigorous.
As is true with any loss, Congress has gone through a period of grieving during which nothing productive has gotten accomplished in the legislative branch either. Fortunately, Congress is emerging from the darkness of grieving the loss of the executive branch, and is developing the knack of working alone. They have passed legislation to take the power to alter the sanctions on Russia away from the president and seized control themselves. The vote was so overwhelming that any veto was moot. So, during a break in rehearsals, the president reluctantly signed the bill into law. The Senate called on a seldom-used rule to keep themselves in session during August, so that the president couldn’t mess around with the special prosecutor and the Attorney General. Democratic elected officials have never sanctioned the shenanigans emanating from the White House, and Republicans are more and more getting off the Trump Train and turning their focus away from entertainment toward governing.
Expect to see Congress, not one caucus or the other working alone, but all of Congress, working to patch up the failings of our healthcare law. First, they will provide some assurances to insurance companies that will provide stability that has been stripped from the state exchanges over the last four or five years. Then, markets can return to viable arenas in which to purchase healthcare policies. It appears that lawmakers finally realize that this system needs care and nurturing along the way to be effective. After that, they will make attempts to shore up and improve our infrastructure. When Congress concentrates on the systems that make the U.S. hum, workers will have more jobs and traveling around the country gets safer and more efficient. These are items that have been, and continue to be, requested by governors–not Republican or Democratic governors–all governors. Governors realize that they need the feds to help create strong individual states. Congress is discovering that they can effect the necessary changes to comply with governors’ requests all by themselves.
Congress faces these challenges while King Lear changes costumes becoming Nero, fiddling as Rome burns. The good news is that these tragedies aren’t set in the total of the United States, but rather are, so far, confined to the stage of the White House/Globe Theater.
Look for Caligula or phone calls from Harvey to be next on the marquee.