Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Shakespearean Fall

A regrettable aspect of "Americanism" is the tendency of our culture, going back to our early history, to measure the value of a person by how much money he has, or makes.   Too many have a way of dismissing legitimate criticisms of conduct or character by rejoining "But look at all his money."   Only in America could a Donald Trump, for example, be accorded actual respect.   The fall of Governor Spitzer is the latest reminder of the emptiness of this view.

Eliot Spitzer has lost what his whole family fortune can't buy back:   his reputation.  Yesterday we compared it to Greek tragedy.   This morning we regard it in a Shakespearean dimension:

Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

Othello Act 3, scene 3, 155–161

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