In Monday’s Politico, Josh Dawsey reports on why Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, tries (usually without success) to erect metaphorical guardrails around motormouth and Twitterer-in-Chief Donald Trump (“White House aides lean on delays and distraction to manage Trump,” http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/09/trump-aides-guard-rails-243608).
Reince Priebus, the “establishment” GOP operative Trump threw under the bus, tried to erect guardrails around Trump to avoid dumb decisions (all his decisions have been dumb) by suggesting “maybe next week” whenever Trump started to rant and rave about something that p____d him off.
In 1936, T.S. Eliot, arguably the greatest poet of the twentieth century (and at whose feet your solitary reporter sat in 1960 and 1962), published Burnt Norton, a profound meditation on the nature of time and salvation. Burnt Norton is the first of Eliot’s Four Quartets — the poem which he is reported to have said represents his greatest work — a judgment in which many literary critics concur. Cf. Redeeming Time: T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, by Kenneth Paul Kramer, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religious Studies at San Jose State University.
Yesterday, associate solitary reporter Johanna Jones, who is with Trump 24/7, overheard Kelly reciting a stanza from Burnt Norton as he walked into the Oval Office (but first, explanatory notes on two words in this stanza): tumid: pompous or bombastic; eructation: late Middle English for "belch”).
Here is a place of disaffection
In a dim light…..
[Here in the] darkness [which can] purify the soul [but Trump has no soul -- Ed.]
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plentitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction [emphasis added]
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs
Eructation of unhealthy souls
Into the faded air… Not here
Not here the darkness, in this twittering world [emphasis added].
As Kelly recited the words “Distracted from distraction by distraction,” Trump yelled at him, saying “What the hell nonsense are you blathering, John?”
To which Kelly, tempered by the rigors of sending soldiers into battle, replied, calmly, “Sir, when are you planning to visit Melania’s parents in Slovenia? It would be a great place for an Air Force Base.”