Eva Hilberg By: Eva Hilberg
Post-Doctoral Fellow
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18 Apr 2020 : Donald Trump, Oedipus Rex

Here is another summary of White House remarks, which seem to become increasingly outlandish each day. Whenever you feel that you now have seen the worst of it, a new layer is added over night. At this point, Greek tragedies spring to mind, and I have been reading Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, in which Oedipus frantically tries to secure the survival of his citizens (and his position of power) in the middle of a plague outbreak in the city. As he is grappling with the issue of who is to blame for this outbreak and his apparent failure and impending loss of power in the face of it, the oracle is reluctantly revealing that Oedipus has been at the root of this crisis from the beginning, unwittingly killing his own father and then marrying his own mother.

Make of the specifics what you will, but some parts of this play seem particularly apt in the current context, especially the role of experts in the face of a ruler that only understands the language of absolute power, and the quickly turning fortunes that everyone experiences as a result of this. Jared Kushner especially should take note of this, as Oedipus' brother-in-law is first (almost) cast as a sacrificial lamb and finally the ruler that emerges from the ashes of the prophecy. Let's hope that even Greek tragedies sometimes get the details wrong...



(All Words White House Remarks, April 13th, 2020)


As soon as we heard the word, I said, “Get out there.” 

That was a bad, bed level five. 

The horrible, destructive power.

The greatest economy in the history of the world 

“Shut it down.  We have one case.”

Not one person had died.  You heard that, Steve, right? 


Not one.  Nobody died.  Not one, Jon.  

I don’t think you’ll find any. 

I said, “China, you can’t come in.  I’m sorry.” 

Didn’t speak to very many people about it.  I didn’t like it.

To the best of my knowledge, I’m the President of the United States, despite the things that are said.


First mandatory quarantine in more than 50 years, we did.  

First mandatory in 50 years

Joe Biden issued a state- — it wasn’t him; he didn’t write it.

Not the best, but they’re not bad. 

Pelosi said “Come to Chinatown.  We think it’s very safe.  Come here.  Let’s all have the big parade — Chinatown parade.”


And someday — hopefully

In five years, when I’m not here

Those papers are all going out of business because nobody is going to want to read them

But now they like them because they write about me.

I’ll ask you some questions because you’re so guilty, but forget it.

We’re going to get back onto the reason we’re here, which is the success we’re having.  Okay?


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