Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Esther and Asahuerus at her banquet, with Haman lowering at the side, just realizing he's doomed, by Rembrandt, 1660, via Wikipedia.

Speaking of conservative Christians who recognize Trump for what he is but think that's what God wants him for, see Susan Glasser's terrific New Yorker profile of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo:

March 2016:
On March 5th, Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, arrived in Wichita for the caucus. Rubio left his closing argument to Pompeo, who told the crowd at the Century II arena, “I’m going to speak to you from the heart about what I believe is the best path forward for America.” An Army veteran who finished first in his class at West Point, Pompeo cited Trump’s boast that if he ordered a soldier to commit a war crime the soldier would “go do it.” As the audience booed, Pompeo warned that Trump—like Barack Obama—would be “an authoritarian President who ignored our Constitution.”

August 2019:

Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who keeps an open Bible on his desk, now says it’s possible that God raised up Trump as a modern Queen Esther, the Biblical figure who convinced the King of Persia to spare the Jewish people. He defines his own job as serving the President, whatever the President asks of him. “A Secretary of State has to know what the President wants,” he said, at a recent appearance in Washington. “To the extent you get out of synch with that leader, then you’re just out shooting the breeze.” No matter what Trump has said or done, Pompeo has stood by him. As a former senior White House official told me, “There will never be any daylight publicly between him and Trump.” The former official said that, in private, too, Pompeo is “among the most sycophantic and obsequious people around Trump.” Even more bluntly, a former American ambassador told me, “He’s like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass.”
In fact Pompeo's a Koch creature, we learn, who's worked to hide the part Koch Industries played in supporting his failed business career, and worked for Koch interests against Trump through the early part of the 2016 campaign until it was clear that Trump would win the nomination, and a self-promoting careerist who's made himself the most durable of Trump's national security hires in spite of diametrically disagreeing with Trump on key issue areas (Russia, Syria) and systematically undercutting him in those areas when he can. All in all a typical Trump flunky, using pure shameless flattery to remain in the emperor's good graces, only better at it than almost anybody, even Pence perhaps.

Only that biblical analogy is pretty weird, when you think about it, and also weirdly evocative of the thing we were talking about the other day.

It's easy to see how he'd identify the Hebrews in Persian exile in the Book of Esther with the persecuted Bible-believing Christians of 21st-century America (not that they're in any way persecuted, but they always think they are). But identifying the Jewish queen with President Trump requires a certain amount of stretching, because, putting it simply, on what analogical table is Trump either female or Jewish? Or, from another angle, who's our 21st-century king, and why wouldn't he be the president?

Well, it's true that Esther is Jewish, but she doesn't in fact act that way: rather than living a proper Jewish woman's life within her community she travels outside it, to the highest levels, and uses her sex appeal to make the gentile king do what she wants him to do, moving her wise uncle Mordecai into his counsels, protecting the Hebrew people to whom her wanton and exogamous behavior must seem peculiar, and having their enemies destroyed, in the form of the wicked minister Haman. In 21st-century America we don't have a king, but are nominally ruled by the unbiblical majority of the people, and Trump, even as he claims a shared identity with the Bible-believers, seduces the secular world, enough to make it to the White House, and puts the Bible-believers like Pompeo into the highest counsels, and signs legislation to protect their rights to discriminate against infidels, and destroys their enemies.

Trump's personal estrangement from the Bible-believers, his wickedness, is what enables him to seduce the "elite" in Congress and the media; it makes him the effective leader, though he can't in fact do anything at all himself, in Purim drag.

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