The Reactionary Utopian
                     October 10, 2006

by Joe Sobran

     The mind reels. Mine is reeling, anyway. Too much is 
happening. I can't take it all in.

     Let's start with politics. Not much good news for 
the Bush regime: North Korea keeps threatening to join 
the nuclear club, and Kim Jong Il is not what you'd call 
a beacon of stability in this crazy world. The Iraq war 
is going horribly, and Bob Woodward's new book is 
ensuring that the name of Bush will remain an inglorious 

     As this year's elections approach, a new sex scandal 
in Congress has further demoralized the Republicans, and 
it doesn't matter how many times Rush Limbaugh reminds us 
that the Democrats have -- well, you know: Monica 
Lewinsky and Barney Frank and Gerry Studds and Wayne Hays 
and of course we'll always have Chappaquiddick. Let's not 
forget Chappaquiddick. The Republicans still talk about 
Chappaquiddick in their sleep.

     But all this doesn't mean the Democrats will 
recapture Congress. By now our form of government 
practically guarantees Republican dominance, and the GOP 
has developed the arts of fundraising, gerrymandering, 
and propagandizing to a degree that makes "election" 
virtually synonymous with "reelection." The defeat of an 
incumbent is no longer just an upset; it's now a near 

     Turning to sports, the Detroit Tigers, who lost 119 
games just two years ago, have whipped the New York 
Yankees in the playoffs. I take this as a sign of divine 
wrath, not against the Yankees, or even George 
Steinbrenner, but against the Yankee fans, whom Jonathan 
Swift described as "the most pernicious race of little 
odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the 
surface of the earth."

     All season long these folks have demanded a pennant 
as their birthright, while mercilessly booing poor Alex 
Rodriguez -- if you can call a guy who makes $25 million 
a year poor -- for failing to be another Mickey Mantle, 
whom they booed just as mercilessly a generation ago for 
failing to be another Joe DiMaggio. By the way, it was 
exactly 50 years ago that Don Larsen pitched a perfect 
game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, 
with Mantle blasting a home run and making a superb 
running catch in center field.

     Ah yes, I remember it well. I was a little brat of a 
Yankee fan myself, and I taunted my best pal, Terry 
Larson (no kin to Don), a Dodgers fan, until, to my 
astonishment, he burst into tears and took a swing at me. 
I'd never seen Terry cry before, but the humiliation of 
his Dodgers was more than flesh could bear. I just sent 
him an e-mail taunting him again. Ha ha! Nothing like a 
little salt in the old wounds, I always say.

     Now for some literary news. Last week, I regret to 
say, I repeated an outdated cliche about the first, 
allegedly "bad," quarto of HAMLET, published in 1603. I 
have since done some research and learned that some sober 
recent scholars think this was not a "bad" (or "pirated") 
copy of the play, but a workmanlike, if inelegant, acting 
abridgment. What I wrote falls under the dubious heading 
of what Everyone Knows. Once again, Everyone was wrong.

     An Italian scholar named Giorgio Melchiori argues 
that the longer and more familiar text of the play, the 
"good" quarto published in 1604, had been circulating in 
manuscript. It was written "for the study," not chiefly 
for the stage -- a "revolutionary" change of genre at the 
time, Melchiori contends.

     In 1598 or so, Gabriel Harvey observed that HAMLET 
was highly esteemed by "the wiser sort" of readers. To me 
this confirms that the author was not the actor from 
Stratford, but, as I have long suspected (though 
Melchiori might disagree), Edward de Vere, the highly 
literary Earl of Oxford, who was too genteel to write for 

     Needless to say, all this is a challenge to what 
Everyone Knows about "Shakespeare," the supposedly 
commercial playwright who dashed off plays for profit. 
Surprise! The real author knew he was writing great 
literature, whether or not it wound up on the stage (as 
several of his plays, in his own time, apparently 

     Finally, in the animal kingdom, traditionally 
peaceable elephants from Africa to Asia have been not 
only attacking humans, but also, by one report, "raping 
and killing rhinoceroses." But as Rush Limbaugh points 
out, the Democrats have done even worse things.


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