Credit to the blog xpostfactoid for pairing Shakespeare’s sonnet 138 with candidate Mitt Romney. The author imagines this dark lady sonnet as a love note from Republican voters to their “mistress” Romney:
When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor’d youth,
Unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppress’d.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love’s best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be.
To be sure, no one would confuse Romney with Shakespeare’s dark lady. In fact, Republican primary voters keep on having flings with other candidates before, it seems, always returning to old reliable, so the poem doesn’t fit in that respect. Shakespeare’s speaker, after all, is deeply in love with his mistress, something that appears not true even of Romney’s own supporters.
But Romney, who has been running what Paul Krugman calls a “post-truth campaign,”is like the dark lady in that he’ll tell his lovers anything they want to hear. As the blog’s author says, “If we elect Romney, I’ll take it as solid evidence that our ‘days are past the best’ while he promises us another American century.”
And if Romney wins the Michigan and Arizona primaries today, odds are that, after all of his lying and Republicans pretending to believe his lying, he and they will indeed end up lying together through November.
But if he then ends up losing to Obama, causing conservatives to conclude that they sacrificed their principles for nothing, I suspect more than a few will be muttering a version of the concluding couplet of sonnet 147:
For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.
One other note: the blog’s author notes that another Krugman column essentially retells in prose Shakespeare’s sonnet as it applies to Romney. In the same column Krugman accuses the Republican candidate of “running a campaign of almost pathological dishonesty”:
Once you’ve decided to hide your beliefs and say whatever you think will get you the nomination, to pretend to agree with people you privately believe are fools, why worry at all about truth?
What this diagnosis implies, of course, is that the many people on the right who don’t trust Mr. Romney, who don’t believe that he’s truly committed to their political faith, are correct in their suspicions. He’s playing a role, and it’s anyone’s guess what lies beneath the mask.
So should those who don’t share the right’s faith be comforted by the evidence that Mr. Romney doesn’t believe anything he’s saying?