Most of you know these famous words written by one K. Marx:
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Caussidière for Danton, Louis Blanc for Robespierre, the Montagne of 1848 to 1851 for the Montagne of 1793 to 1795, the nephew for the uncle.
I'm sure you get the basic idea, even if some of the references to 19th century French politics escape you. (The uncle and the nephew are Napoleon I and Napoleon III; the "Mountain" was a left-wing political party; Louis Blanc was a politician and writer for whom I might have voted had I been alive then.)
Can we translate this "tragedy to farce" thing out of French and into American terms?
Seems to me that Rick Perry -- who thinks that he can achieve high office by spreading paranoid stories about how much Obama hates Baby Jesus -- is the farce version of George W. Bush. Dubya seems, at first blush, to be a rather farcical creature in his own right -- until you think of the lives lost in his foolish war, and of the surplus he turned into a horrifying debt. Absurd as that man was and is, his presidency was the greatest tragedy in this country's history.
And then there's Obama. Tragedy or farce? If the latter, then the tragic figure who preceded him was Jimmy Carter -- the man who made the Reagan revolution possible. On the other hand, if Obama is himself the tragedy, then perhaps Romney (Obama's GOP dopplegaenger) will turn out to be the farce.