Romney, Gingrich & Obama: The World, The Flesh, and The Devil
How a 15th century morality play sheds light on our 2012 political drama.
January 23, 2012 - 12:06 am
THE TEMPTATION OF THE DEVIL
In this year’s morality play, which candidate would personify a man successfully seduced by the Devil? Why, none other than Barack Obama. He’s a walking compendium of the seven deadly sins — greed, wrath (such as when he snapped at Senator John McCain at a health care conference on February 25, 2010: “We aren’t campaigning any more. The election is over”), sloth (90 rounds of golf, the equivalent of three full months of his three-year presidency, while the country goes down the tubes), pride, lust (for power), envy (of the “one percent”) and gluttony.
There are more, although they don’t make the top seven: condescension, grandiosity (“Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment … when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”), despicable, underhanded lowball tactics toward candidates seeking the offices he sought, inability to master his own addictions, ostentation, and unconscionable rudeness, egregious choice of friends, of the chief law enforcement officer of the country, and of his mentor, in whose church he claims he managed to ignore the anti-American rants that drove Oprah Winfrey from its pews.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE MORALITY PLAY
“O all thing faileth, save God alone;
Beauty, Strength, and Discretion;
For when Death bloweth his blast,
They all run from me full fast.”
Beauty, strength, discretion, and the five senses can, indeed, diminish over time: all that remains at the end of our lives are our good deeds, represented in the play by the character of that name. Finally, at peace with himself, Everyman dies with no one but Good Deeds to speak for the life he led when he meets his Maker. That is the message of the play.
Which of our Everyman candidates will ascend to the presidency a year from today on Inauguration Day? All are human. All could stumble and fall under the weighty baggage of their humanity.
As George Clooney’s character asks in Up In the Air, ”Whose backpack is the lightest?”