What’s going on here? All of a sudden we are seeing children turn on their conservative public servant parents in public. (That’s Oedipus with the spear, incidentally.)
- Kellyanne Conway’s 15-year-old daughter Claudia has been posting videos on Tik Tok, berating her mother for working for President Trump while attacking her boss. This disrespect is an order of magnitude worse than what Conway tolerates from her despicable husband George. I can’t conceive of the path whereby any child would acquire the idea that it was ethical or anything worse that gross breach of the family bonds to publicly attack a parent or her employer.
[To the commenter who sent me this, thanks! I lost the original email...]
- Meanwhile, Mary Trump, the President’s niece, is trying to get a tell-all book about her uncle published in time to slime him during the election, allegedly violating a non-disclosure agreement. Maybe it’s because I was raised by a Greek mother and grandmother, but I can not imagine attacking a family member like that, no matter what I thought of him. Unless an uncle was a secret serial killer or a spy, this is on the absolutism side of the ethics spectrum for me.
I feel only slightly less revolted by John Bolton and his book. Such cash-in books are despicable; the authors are despicable as well. Those who seek to profit by harming those who trusted them should not be hired, or relied upon in any context, by anyone.
- Then there is Stephanie Regan, the daughter of Republican state House candidate Robert Regan. She tweeted, “If you’re in Michigan and 18+ pls for the love of god do not vote for my dad for state rep. Tell everyone.” later, Stephanie wrote that voters should research his views, saying, “I don’t feel safe in sharing further information regarding his beliefs, but please look him up and just read for yourself.”
Her father posted a long response on Facebook, professing to be “happy that she feels confident enough in our relationship to express her opposing thoughts so publicly.” That would be enough for me to vote against him. He didn’t raise his daughter to respect her parents, he did a poor job teaching her ethical values like trust, loyalty and gratitude, and he’s a weenie.
His daughter, meanwhile, is a fool. I would no more hire or collaborate with someone who would do that to her father than get a rattlesnake as a pet.
The title, as most of you know, and all of you should know (I feel another cultural literacy quiz coming on) is spoken by King Lear in Act 1, Scene 4 of the Shakespearean tragedy. The old monarch says this shortly before he makes the fateful and ultimately fatal decision to disown his younger daughter, the loving Cordelia, in favor of her two psychopathic older sisters, Regan and Goneril.
If you haven’t read “King Lear”—the annotated version is great–you should. The play may be the most brilliant, many-layered works of English literature ever written. Studying the play as I prepared to direct it long ago, I was repeatedly stunned by its perceptiveness and the complexity of the ideas underlying the drama. I could not imagine that any human being was smart enough and had the life experiences to possess such wisdom.
Indeed, I told my wife that I had solved the “Who was Shakespeare?” mystery. Based on “King Lear,” he must have been an alien visitor from space.
And yes, the playwright, whoever or whatever he was, understood ethics and all its complexities beautifully.