Bucks County Herald

Charles Meredith:

Today we have the answers

Dear Friends,

Good morning. Two days ago, we learned the answers to the five questions that Terry Madonna asked one week before the midterm elections.

As you know, Madonna teaches at Franklin and Marshall College and is a national pollster. In today’s climate of bomb threats and the massacre of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh temple, few thought that Republicans would be able to weather the political storm.

At the time, Madonna asked three questions: (1) how important would mid-term history be? (2) the influence from the women’s vote? (3) the importance of the health care issue? (4) the role of President Trump? and (5) the importance of voter turnout? We’ll talk about this next week.

Meanwhile, my book club is reading a fascinating book that should appeal to you. “Tyrants” is its title and Stephen Greenblatt, the author. In its 189 pages, the author draws parallels between the tyrants in four Shakespeare plays and President Trump.

Writing between 1590 and 1613, Shakespeare realized that he wouldn’t last long if he criticized Queen Elizabeth I. So he chose historical subjects instead, and let audiences draw their own conclusions. Here’s what the book cover of “Tyrants” says:

“In exploring the psyche (and psychoses) of the likes of Richard III, Macbeth, King Lear, Coriolanus, and the societies they ruled over, author Stephen Greenblatt illuminates the ways in which William Shakespeare delved into the lust for absolute power and the catastrophic consequences of its execution.

“Cherished institutions seem fragile, political classes are in disarray, economic misery fuels populist anger, people knowingly accept being lied to, partisan rancor dominates, spectacular indecency rules … these aspects of a society in crisis fascinated Shakespeare and shaped some of his most memorable plays. With uncanny insight, he shone a spotlight on the infantile psychology and unquenchable narcissistic appetites of demagogues … and the cynicism and opportunism of the various enablers and hangers-on who surround them.”

I would argue that the book’s subjects remind me of Donald Trump.

Turning to different topics, my next door neighbor asked me an interesting question. Ralph and Ruth Moyer are our neighbors twice: first, at our residence on Juniper Street in Quakertown and second, his shoe store adjacent to the Free Press building on Broad Street.

Ralph was observing that Pennsylvania has many bridges that are so narrow that opposing cars have to take turns to avoid head-on collisions.

Ralph referred to a narrow bridge in Milford Township. “Isn’t it Bucks County’s responsibility to maintain the bridges?” he asked me.

For an answer, I called on Lynn Bush who recently retired as the executive head and chief clerk of the Bucks County Commissioners. In my time as a commissioner, we had a Roads and Bridges Department. But we had only bridges to worry about. Decades ago (I think in the 1930s), the state had made a deal with the 67 counties. The state would maintain the roads if the counties would take care of the bridges.

Lynn referred me to Kevin Spencer who is the leader of the county’s Roads and Bridges Department. The department maintains 114 bridges, but no roads. (The local municipalities, state and federal governments are in charge.) We can’t blame our local political leaders for the condition of the roads. By the way, I believe Pennsylvania has more miles of roads than any other state. Thought you’d want to know.

On a different topic, here are several graphs from the Washington Post on the subject of Donald Trump’s fake news claims: “More than 200 journalists condemned President Trump’s sustained pattern of attacks on the free press, in an open letter describing his behavior as ‘un-American and utterly unlawful and unseemly for the president of the United States and leader of the free world,” the Post article began.

“Trump’s condoning of political violence is part of a sustained pattern of attacks on a free press …which includes labeling any reportage he doesn’t like as ‘fake news’ and barring reporters and news organizations whom he wishes to punish from press briefings and events.”
Sign me up!

Last, when I watched the Eagles play football in London, I was fascinated to hear and watch British fans sing “God Save the Queen,” the United Kingdom’s national anthem before the game began. As the TV cameras panned the crowd, I could see their lips forming the words as they sang.

But when our national anthem was played, the American crowd didn’t sing. I hope that the lack of participation was due to the difficulty of singing an anthem that requires enormous vocal range, including the ability to sing a vowel on the highest note of the piece … on the word “free” … which physically strains the throat, rather than not knowing the words.

Thought you’d want to know.

See you next week.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith


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