Friday, February 16, 2018

"be of [government](a little)/ More careful"

Reading the House Judiciary Committee's surprisingly... tender-hearted? report on the impeachment of Richard Nixon––
(remember I was so excited to find it for 99¢ at the thrift store?)––
I was reminded of lines from e e cummings:

"be of love(a little) more careful than of everything..."

By "surprisingly tender," I mean you can sense in their words the committee's anguish that President Nixon failed in his "duty to take care" of this vulnerable thing that they obviously cherish:
their (my) constitutional government. 

They painstakingly go into how that government was framed, explaining it patiently, in a way that makes me love them for caring to do dry background work in service of this really rather romantic & difficult thing to pull off [democracy]. 
They're like,
"See, Franklin and Jefferson talked about this before... and they decided it'd be a good idea to have these checks and balances [examples] ... which this jerk just blew out of the water!"

It's in bureaucratese, of course, but bygod, it reads as if they'd hired a nanny who then abused their baby.
Which is close to what happened. When you read relevant transcripts of White House tapes, it's BLATANT.

THE PRESIDENT: What'll he [Gordon Strachan, aide to Bob Haldeman] say? Just go in and say he didn't know [about Watergate]?

[JOHN] DEAN: He'll go in and stonewall it and say, "I don't anything about what you're talking about." He has already done it twice, as you know, in interviews. 

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. I guess he should, shouldn't he, in the interests of ––Why? I suppose we can't call that justice, can we?

You bastard, Nixon! No, we can't call that justice.

And here's something extra galling:
unlike our current president, Nixon was smart and knowledgeable. 
He knew what he was doing. (Though the two men do share a dangerously paranoid and inflated self-regard.)

Now I've lived among my species for more than five decades, I know how hard it is to get a group of people to cooperate and to be effective. I appreciate (like I never did growing up) all the care that went into designing a system that would give that a chance to happen.

To people who say, We don't need no stinkin' government, 
I say, Really? Have you met the humans? Half the time we can't figure out a workable dish-washing rotation.

Substitute government for love in e e cummings' poem and it works--even the line "discover laughing".
(Maybe especially "discover laughing". When can we do that?)

be of government(a little)
More careful
Than of everything
guard her perhaps only

A trifle less
(merely beyond how very)
closely than
Nothing,remember government by frequent

Her least never the most
memory)give entirely each
Forever its freedom

(Dare until a flower,
understanding sizelessly sunlight
Open what thousandth why and
discover laughing)


poodletail said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post, fresca. I'm printing it and saving it.

Fresca said...

POODLE: Thanks for reading and commenting.
Let's get together and laugh sometime this spring, eh?