Signifying More Than Nothing

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

– MacBeth, Act V, Scene V

This is spoken by MacBeth himself after hearing that his wife is dead. I quote this passage from Shakespeare’s great play about an ambitious and highly flawed leader, because of a certain snarky, misguided, cartoon that selectively quotes a portion of this passage. Faulkner pulled the title for one of his greatest novels from this same passage, and more than did it justice. This cartoon, while venting a frustration over this budget mess that I share, has in common with much of the (often partisan) commentary about the budget mess in that it puts Governor Granholm and the Republican party on equally low ground. This could not be farther from reality.

This selective quoting and mis-quoting, sleight-of-hand with budget figures, and verbal deception is par for the course when it comes to much of the commentary and criticism of this budget mess. A mess created when intransigent Republicans led by Senator Mike Bishop flatly rejected Granholm’s service tax plan. Then after agreeing (compromising) with her on over $300 million dollars in cuts, they rammed through the rest of their budget plan late one Thursday evening, over $600 million in cuts, without any public discussion.

This running from their own plans and desires is typical of the Republicans in this debacle. Their deception continues on and on and yet the Governor is to share equal blame with them? Please.

One of the biggest verbal deceptions has been committed by Republicans over and over. They talk about how government needs to be reformed. If you ask them what needs to be reformed, they only talk about shifting state school employees’ health insurance to a preferred provider plan with co-pays. Okay, there’s one reform idea. The rest of the reforms are what? Cuts.

The Republican party wants cuts and only cuts. They say government employees get paid too much and receive too many benefits and don’t work hard enough. In other words: they hate government. They don’t want government. If you ask them what their ideal government would look like in terms of the services it would provide, they can’t tell you. Or more likely, they won’t tell you. Because they don’t want people to know how much real disdain they have for publicly-financed services. Just like Senator Bishop and his colleagues didn’t want anyone to see what their budget plan really entailed for over a month. And then he and the rest of his party didn’t have the guts to stand behind their own cuts-only budget plan.

This is reforming government?

If by reform you mean strangling government, then yes, in some perverted world that’s what it means. But there is no English language thesaurus that lists the words “reform” and “cut” as synonyms. As the snarky cartoon does, this too intentionally confuses the meaning of words, yanks them out of context, all in an attempt to smear a Governor who has a very real handle on what is ailing this state and has never attempted to hide her agenda, unlike her Republican counterparts.

And if you’re going to quote Shakespeare, or any other writer, make sure you know the context of the words. Otherwise, you will look like an idiot. So far, the most misguided person of high ambition that most resembles MacBeth is Mike Bishop. Unlike MacBeth though, Bishop doesn’t appear to feel any anguish over the people he would crush in his attempt to “reform” government.


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