“… and you shall not sin,
If you do say we think him over-proud
And under-honest; in self-assumption greater
Than in the note of judgment.”
(Troilus and Cressida, act 2, sc. 3)
That history repeats itself is an adage with multiple contributors. It started with the biblical Ecclesiastes “Nothing new under the sun” (Nihil sub sole novum). Next came the Latin writer Curtius Rufus, author of the first History of Alexander the Great. A millennium and three quarters later, it was the turn of Karl Marx, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” All of which prompted George Bernard Shaw to remark that, “If history repeats itself, but the unexpected always happens, man must be incapable to learn from experience.”
New Jersey’s governor Chris Christie’s reiterated statements that he knew nothing about the heavy-trafficked bridge, closed to embarrass a political opponent, have a ring of deja-vu and deja-heard. The resemblance with Reagan’s “ignorance” about the US funding of the illegal “Contra” army in Nicaragua, is remarkable.
Vice-Admiral John Pointdexter was the mastermind of that project via the CIA. Asked why he did not tell Reagan about the illegal arms shipments he said, “I made a deliberate decision not to ask the President, so that I could insulate him from the decision and ensure some future deniability for the President if it ever leaked out.”
With Reagan then as with Christie now, the issue is not so much who is the actual culprit, but what is the pervasive culture that promotes, in one instance, an illegal war, and in the other an act of large-scale thuggery.
It is true that King Duncan declared that “There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face” (Macbeth, act 1, sc. 4). But in the instance, the physiognomy and behavior profile of Christie is that of an overweight bully.
Readers who take issue with the characterization, may wish to watch the videos reachable via the following link,
and make their own assessment.
They will also probably remember the catastrophic hurricane Sandy that hit the East Coast in 2012. Apparently, Christie used two million dollars of the funds earmarked for the victims, to create a video “promoting” tourism in New Jersey. The video features Christie and family as wonderful symbols of a wonderful state to visit.
That diversion of funds is a clear insult to the victims of the hurricane, when not a crime. Bullies are usually also vain, and delight in pretending to outperform everyone else.
It’s up to potential tourists to decide or not whether to visit New Jersey. Personally, the very presence of the current governor is a good-enough reason to avoid that state.
That Christie was unaware of the doings of his close political disciples and assistants, transgresses the bounds of probability and overburdens the credulity of the American audience.
In summary – yes, in the instance, history has repeated itself. With Reagan it was a tragedy played with the lives of the Nicaraguan farmers slaughtered by the US-backed Contras. Compared to Christie’s act of thuggery, history has repeated itself as a farce.
The real tragedy, however, is that this character, according to the media, is or was, purportedly, a probable republican front-runner for the next presidential elections.
Such candidate! Such elections!
In the play. Agamennon tells Patroclus how the other Greeks feel about Achilles.
Shakespeare at Work. Use the quote to describe a proud and dishonest person.
Image Location. http://workrelationships.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/bully.jpg