Obama the Alchemist Would Pluck Your Savings Clean

Whatever abject failings Obama has as a statesman or legislative leader, he's become a master wizard at projecting illusions and capturing the yearning of so many who want to be deceived.  There have always been people like Obama, and the greats of literature have satirized them.

Subtle, the con-man alchemist; Face, an unscrupulous butler; and Dol, a common London street prostitute, open Ben Jonson's popular and enduring 1610 farce by arguing how to swindle the gullible ones.  Such a caricature couldn't possibly resemble the leading political actors a year ago, could it?

The Alchemist, a drama combining medieval sleight-of-hand and magic, captured the bawdy imagination of post-Elizabethan theatergoers.  It was two hours of lewd repartee and characters unconvincingly taking on new appearances in nearly every scene, where patrons departed the Blackfriars Theatre with the same temperament as when they entered.  Sounds like an Obama State of the Union, doesn't it?

Alchemy in ancient times wasn't only the stuff of ignorance, proto-chemistry, and witchcraft.  It was the longing for the secret of life, the sweet elixir, the Philosopher's Stone -- the magic catalyst bringing riches and immortality.  The promises of modern-day politicians can be filled with as much fantasy, preying on gullible voters who routinely buy lottery tickets and vote for someone who will buy them groceries.

Chaucer, in his Canterbury Tales, perfectly pegs Obama's latest triangulation and "pivot to the center" in his "Canon's Yeoman's Tale."  The Yeoman, companion and squire to the Canon, in his prologue begins to sound like the typical fawning Obama apologetic media:

I say, my lord has so much subtlety
But all his art you cannot learn from me,
And yet I help by working at his side,
That all this pleasant land through which we ride,
From here right into Canterbury town,
Why, he could turn it all clean upside-down
And pave it all with silver and with gold.

Chaucer's pilgrims, allured by the promise of such a philosopher in their midst, want to know more:

Since of the learning of your lord you boast,
Tell how he works, I pray you heartily,
Since he's so clever and withal so sly.
Where do you dwell, if you may tell it me?

The pilgrims learn soon enough, as the Yeoman becomes a truth-teller, that the Canon, the alchemist, is a fraud:

We stir and mix and stare into the fire,
But for all that we fail of our desire,
And never do we come to our conclusion.
To many folk we bring about illusion,
And borrow gold, perhaps a pound or two,
Or ten, or twelve, or any sum will do,
And make them think, aye, at the least, it's plain,
That from a pound of gold we can make twain!

Obama the 21st-century alchemist -- promising to turn lead into gold, his oratory weaving straw into silk thread -- has been spinning the ancient craft of illusion since the shock and awe of the November midterms.  Which of Chaucer's Canon's "wily stratagems" for turning mercury and copper into silver have we seen from Obama?  Capitulating to the tax rate extensions while hailing the new law as a "good deal" for taxpayers and calling for the spirit of compromise to continue into 2011?  This after he has railed against tax cuts for the rich and was happy enough to jam ObamaCare through without a single Republican vote?

How about naming Bill Daley as his new Chief of Staff, which has the so-called moderates marveling at how graceful and pragmatic Obama has become in his ostensible embrace of Wall Street and Main Street?  Does that mean that Obama will disavow his own nonstop demonizing of the private sector?

How about Obama's "new" theme of jobs while appointing Jeff Immelt of GE as chair to his "Council on Competitiveness and Jobs"...while GE moves more jobs to China?

The ancients never seriously believed the black art occult aspects of alchemy.  Yet there was always the allure of mystery and metaphysics and enough proto-science, such as the discovery of arsenic and how to make gunpowder, to persist in attracting practitioners to the craft, always aided and abetted by man's innate gullibility.

How many of the audience for Obama's State of the Union enjoyed the scene for its entertainment value alone, as did Ben Jonson's theatergoers?  And how many -- like Chaucer's host, who has the last word after the Canon's deceit has been revealed -- will be wise enough to discern a magician's guile?
Meddle no more with that base art, I mean,
For if you do, you'll lose your savings clean.
Whatever abject failings Obama has as a statesman or legislative leader, he's become a master wizard at projecting illusions and capturing the yearning of so many who want to be deceived.  There have always been people like Obama, and the greats of literature have satirized them.

Subtle, the con-man alchemist; Face, an unscrupulous butler; and Dol, a common London street prostitute, open Ben Jonson's popular and enduring 1610 farce by arguing how to swindle the gullible ones.  Such a caricature couldn't possibly resemble the leading political actors a year ago, could it?

The Alchemist, a drama combining medieval sleight-of-hand and magic, captured the bawdy imagination of post-Elizabethan theatergoers.  It was two hours of lewd repartee and characters unconvincingly taking on new appearances in nearly every scene, where patrons departed the Blackfriars Theatre with the same temperament as when they entered.  Sounds like an Obama State of the Union, doesn't it?

Alchemy in ancient times wasn't only the stuff of ignorance, proto-chemistry, and witchcraft.  It was the longing for the secret of life, the sweet elixir, the Philosopher's Stone -- the magic catalyst bringing riches and immortality.  The promises of modern-day politicians can be filled with as much fantasy, preying on gullible voters who routinely buy lottery tickets and vote for someone who will buy them groceries.

Chaucer, in his Canterbury Tales, perfectly pegs Obama's latest triangulation and "pivot to the center" in his "Canon's Yeoman's Tale."  The Yeoman, companion and squire to the Canon, in his prologue begins to sound like the typical fawning Obama apologetic media:

I say, my lord has so much subtlety
But all his art you cannot learn from me,
And yet I help by working at his side,
That all this pleasant land through which we ride,
From here right into Canterbury town,
Why, he could turn it all clean upside-down
And pave it all with silver and with gold.

Chaucer's pilgrims, allured by the promise of such a philosopher in their midst, want to know more:

Since of the learning of your lord you boast,
Tell how he works, I pray you heartily,
Since he's so clever and withal so sly.
Where do you dwell, if you may tell it me?

The pilgrims learn soon enough, as the Yeoman becomes a truth-teller, that the Canon, the alchemist, is a fraud:

We stir and mix and stare into the fire,
But for all that we fail of our desire,
And never do we come to our conclusion.
To many folk we bring about illusion,
And borrow gold, perhaps a pound or two,
Or ten, or twelve, or any sum will do,
And make them think, aye, at the least, it's plain,
That from a pound of gold we can make twain!

Obama the 21st-century alchemist -- promising to turn lead into gold, his oratory weaving straw into silk thread -- has been spinning the ancient craft of illusion since the shock and awe of the November midterms.  Which of Chaucer's Canon's "wily stratagems" for turning mercury and copper into silver have we seen from Obama?  Capitulating to the tax rate extensions while hailing the new law as a "good deal" for taxpayers and calling for the spirit of compromise to continue into 2011?  This after he has railed against tax cuts for the rich and was happy enough to jam ObamaCare through without a single Republican vote?

How about naming Bill Daley as his new Chief of Staff, which has the so-called moderates marveling at how graceful and pragmatic Obama has become in his ostensible embrace of Wall Street and Main Street?  Does that mean that Obama will disavow his own nonstop demonizing of the private sector?

How about Obama's "new" theme of jobs while appointing Jeff Immelt of GE as chair to his "Council on Competitiveness and Jobs"...while GE moves more jobs to China?

The ancients never seriously believed the black art occult aspects of alchemy.  Yet there was always the allure of mystery and metaphysics and enough proto-science, such as the discovery of arsenic and how to make gunpowder, to persist in attracting practitioners to the craft, always aided and abetted by man's innate gullibility.

How many of the audience for Obama's State of the Union enjoyed the scene for its entertainment value alone, as did Ben Jonson's theatergoers?  And how many -- like Chaucer's host, who has the last word after the Canon's deceit has been revealed -- will be wise enough to discern a magician's guile?
Meddle no more with that base art, I mean,
For if you do, you'll lose your savings clean.