Sunday, January 24, 2021

Literary Corner: Everything on the Field

Piet Mondrian, Dune Landscape, 1909, via

By unpopular demand, the versification of some of President Trump's valedictory address at Joint Base Andrews on 20 January:

The History of Sitting Presidents

by Donald J. Trump


You're going to see, you're going
to see incredible numbers start
coming in, if everything is sort of
left alone. Be careful, very complex,
be careful, but you're going to see
some incredible things happening.

And remember us when you see these
things happening, if you would,
remember us because I'm looking at--
I'm looking at elements of our economy
that are said to be a rocket ship up.

It's a rocket ship up. We have the
greatest country in the world. We have
the greatest economy in the world.
And as bad as the pandemic was, we
were hit so hard, just like the entire world
was hit so hard, places that thought they
got away with it, didn't get away with it.

They're suffering right now. We did
something that is really considered
a medical miracle. They're calling it
a miracle and that was the vaccine.
We got the vaccine developed in nine
months instead of nine years or five
years or ten years or a long time.

It was supposed to take a long time,
many, many years to develop a vaccine.
We have two out, we have another one
coming almost immediately and it really
is a great achievement. So you should
start to see really good numbers over
the next few months. I think you're going
to see those numbers really skyrocket downward.
And I can only say this: we have worked hard.

We've left it all, as the athletes would
say, we've left it all on the field. We
don't have to, we don't have to come
and say we'll never say in a month
when we're sitting in Florida, we're not
going to be looking at each other and
saying, you know, if we only worked a
little bit harder. You can't work harder.

And we had a lot of obstacles and we
went through the obstacles. And we just
got seventy-five million votes and
that's a record in the history of,
in the history of sitting presidents.
That's an all time record by a lot,
by many millions, in the history of sitting
presidents it's been really just an honor.

That expression, "left it all on the field", meaning "gave it their all", seems to acquire an exotic new significance in the context, in that there's actually an "it" being asserted, the "complex" something including the rocket ship up and the skyrocket down, that depends on the incoming administration "sort of" leaving everything alone, being careful. Biden and the new Congress can only spoil these wonders if they attempt to govern the country; they'll be most successful if they don't do anything at all—and there's no need, "everything" is really "on the field" where the Trumpies left it.

He's not even in some kind of vulgar competition with Biden; he's in competition with the other "sitting presidents"—that's who he defeated in the election with his somewhat inflated vote count, he's not denying that Biden got more, but Obama and Bush and Lincoln didn't. He's still the sitting president, in fact, only he'll be sitting in Florida, watching TV there. It's not that he's ceased being president, it's that he's "gone through the obstacles" and finished all the work he needed to do in the second term and he's taking the rest as vacation days. Perhaps he's napping, like Arthur at Avalon, and will return in the hour of our country's greatest need, which is not just now because he already took care of it.

Edward Burne-Jones, Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon (1881-98), via Wikimedia Commons.

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