The fear of listening to the Voice

Suddenly another voice spoke, low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment. Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard…Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves. When others spoke they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast…For many the sound of the voice alone was enough to hold them enthralled; but for those whom it conquered the spell endured when they were far away…

‘Despite the injuries that have been done to me…still I would save you, and deliver you from the ruin that draws nigh inevitably, if you ride upon this road which you have taken. Indeed I alone can aid you now.’

Is this the voice of Trump — “low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment”? Is the voice so marvelous we can’t “report the words that [we] heard”? Does “all that it said” seem “wise and reasonable”?

Gotta be kidding me. No. Trump’s voice is “harsh and uncouth,” never mind ungrammatical and incoherent, dopey and irrational.

Yet, yet, he “alone can aid [us] now.” Yeah, that sounds familiar, that’s Trumpian.

But no. These quotes are from The Two Towers, the second book in the trilogy, The Lord of The Rings, and the enchanting speaker is Saruman, the erstwhile chief of the wizards, now defeated and overturned.

Despite his monumental perfidy, Trump is no Saruman. (He’s not even as mighty as the fake Wizard of Oz, a little man hiding behind a curtain.) Saruman was a wizard who could capture people with his voice alone. Saruman was once a great man, now corrupt. Trump has never been a great man but has always been corrupt.

But the essential comparison here is this: today, even in the New York Times — the sub-head is “Why does the nation need to be subjected to the president’s daily carnival of misinformation, preening and political venom? — there is a growing call for not televising Trump’s “conferences.”

The expressed rationale is understandable. But I sense the tacit rationale is fear. Fear that Trump’s voice is Saruman’s voice and will seduce us into supporting him.

I believe — no, I know — this fear is misplaced. I’ve listened to Trump and he continually appalls me. I can’t imagine a more powerful antidote to Trump than hearing his life-long stupidity and bizarre grandiosity.

If the various channels decide to eliminate the daily Trump Follies (as Michelle Cottle aptly calls them) from our Coronavirus regimen, I’m not going to weep.

But I don’t fear them. I loathe them, I despair over this thing we currently must call a “presidency,” and I believe the great majority of voters in this country — many more than the 65,844,610 who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 — won’t be voting for this un-wizard in November.

 

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