Perfect: When It Takes on Good!

November 17, 2018

Perfect: When It Takes on Good!



Le meglio è l’inimico del bene­—the best is the enemy of the good—gets credited to Francois-Marie Arouet aka Voltaire often but, in fact, it’s an old Italian proverb he cited in his Dictionnaire Philosophique, first published in 1764. Sadly, it fits our times, too well!

The Ds control the House of Representatives, beginning on January 3, 2019. The House elects a Speaker, who can be a Congressperson or not, although every speaker has been a member of the House of Representatives.

The Ds will have a solid majority, once the remaining races get resolved. Still, there’s doubt about whether Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will serve as Speaker.

I can offer and appreciate plenty of arguments for change. But … now? With a malevolent, incompetent prevaricator living in our Executive Mansion, and a Turtled-Necked Toady running the Senate?

Ms. Pelosi doesn’t possess every attribute I want in a leader, and shame on the Ds for not developing a cadre of leaders in their 40s and 50s, at the ready to step up. Shame, too, on those among us who need to make room for the next generation … and won’t. (Ms. Pelosi served as Speaker from 2007 – 2011, she’s 78, and she has represented the Bay area for more than 30 years.)

Shame aside, do the Ds really want a leadership fight in these times. Really? And can anyone offer a justification, right now, which trumps the need to trump Trump? Yes, Ms. Pelosi lacks perfectness, but she’s way more than good enough, and that ought to shut this nonsense down now!

Moving overseas, there’s Brexit. A bare majority of the United Kingdom’s voters decided to leave the European Union on June 23, 2016. Promoters told them they’d been getting raw deal, a better deal was easy, blah, blah, blah. Now, not so much, for the EU didn’t roll over, the whole gizmo involves a multitude of details that matter, and the UK has messed up badly. (Read Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU by Alex Hunt and Brian Wheeler for the BBC for a more detailed summary, and The Men Who Want to Push Britain Off a Cliff by Jenni Russell for the New York Times if you want to feel the pain.)

The British economy worked. Not so much for everybody, for sure, but it worked. And the UK had lots of special favors as part of its EU membership: its own currency, border security, and control over fiscal policy.

Never mind, said the Brexiteers: We can have our cake and eat it to. To which Donald Tusk of the European Council responded:

That was pure illusion, that one can have the EU cake and eat it too. To all who believe in it, I propose a simple experiment. Buy a cake, eat it, and see if it is still there on the plate.

Seeking freedom from an imperfect arrangement, the UK has left behind a more than successful arrangement.

Back on our side of the pond, we elected Donald Trump. A bare majority of our voters in the right places at the right time—and a minority of all who did vote—selected a man who had proved at every turn in his well-examined life that he was unfit for anything. Chose him to lead the Free World. And, pray tell, why? Because life wasn’t good enough!

Many among us live malcontented lives, wanting and needing more, better, or even just different. Some, for sure, lack what they need, but for too many, satisfaction always exists somewhere else.

We should not be surprised by the fact that Voltaire mentioned le meglio è l’inimico del bene in his compilation more than 250 years ago. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. And, still, we step in it!

Note: William Goldman died yesterday. He made the world a better place through his use of words, and his formulation about writing guides me:

As a writer I believe that all the basic human truths are known. And what we try to do as best we can is come at those truths from our own unique angle, to reilluminate those truths in a hopefully different way.

Rest in peace, sir!

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