Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Signifying nothing





In the matter of Presidential ad-
dresses, I always think - don't
you? - of Sam Waterston as Lin-
coln at Gettysburg for Ken Burns,
or of Franklin Roosevelt, ring-
ing havoc of reprisal to infamy,
itself. For remarks to the United
Nations, on the other hand, pos-
sibly one betrays a certain age
to recall the clipped Princeton-
ian dismissal of Soviet lies by
Governor Stevenson in the Secur-
ity Council, on their infusion of 
missiles of vulgar blackmail, off
the virginal beaches of our land.

Today, however, we enjoyed a treat
from our Entertainer-in-Chief, ad-
vertised no more than a day before
as not so much the voice of a na-
tional policy, but the embodiment
of a national defect, in remarks
which clove the Gordian atom with
his characteristic splitting of
infinitives. As Henry Higgins is
heard to remark to Pickering, in
the Lerner and Loewe version of 
Pygmalion, "[Diplomats] don't 
care what you do, actually, so 
long as you pronounce it prop-
erly." This, too, was too much
for our carnival barker of seg-
regated housing. Let him adore 
his sound, let him taste of its  
tar in the mazes of his destiny.