Eric Cantor And A Defeat Of Biblical Proportions | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Eric Cantor And A Defeat Of Biblical Proportions

Play associated audio

After his unexpected defeat in the Republican primary, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor opened a press conference by saying, "In the Jewish faith, you know, I grew up, went to Hebrew school, read a lot in the Old Testament, and you learn a lot about individual setbacks."

This is not mere piety, and the King James Version of the Bible, made up of the Old Testament and the New, is a terrific book. The heroes of these stories do not lead the race wire to wire. Those who are elevated are tested and taught by disaster.

To the reader of Genesis the pattern is inescapable. Joseph, Jacob's favorite son, who knew the secret of interpreting dreams 2 millennia before Sigmund Freud, is sold into slavery and ends up in Egypt. His brothers bloody the boy's coat of many colors and bring it home to break their old father's heart — Jacob, who had wrestled an angel to a standstill and was rewarded with a new and blessed name (Israel) and penalized with a wound (an injured leg).

Joseph becomes his Egyptian master's favorite, but then is falsely accused of sexual harassment and goes to prison, where he makes his reputation as an interpreter of dreams. When he translates the dreams that trouble Pharaoh and gives the monarch wise counsel, he becomes viceroy of all the land.

This story is epic poetry of the highest order — written with strict economy and bold directness. Here's what Jacob says when he learns of his son's ascendancy: "It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die." The eloquence is in the simplicity.

Cantor, the man who was a step away from high glory, may well take some pensive consolation from the story of Joseph — or from "Election Day, November 1884," Walt Whitman's Bible-quoting poem in which the "the still, small voice" of the divine rests in "America's choosing day." The determination of that "peaceful choice" is more powerful "than all Rome's wars of old."

David Lehman's New and Selected Poems came out in November 2013 from Scribner.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Ann Meara, Half Of Husband-Wife Comedy Team, Dies At 85

Ann Meara died Saturday in New York. She had a long varied career in show business and was one half of the 1960s comedy duo, Stiller and Meara. She was marred to Jerry Stiller. Her son is Ben Stiller.
NPR

How Dangerous Is Powdered Alcohol?

Last month, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved a powdered alcohol product, making both parents and lawmakers nervous. Some states have already banned powdered alcohol. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with Brent Roth of Wired, who made his own powdered concoction and put it to the test.
NPR

Obama Administration Forced To Defend Strategy Against ISIS In Iraq

On this Memorial Day, the Obama administration finds itself defending its foreign policy strategy in Iraq where the self-proclaimed Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has captured the city of Ramadi.
NPR

For Aspiring Artists, Social Media Can Get Fans Too Close For Comfort

The power of social media is that aspiring artists can essentially invite fans into their living rooms, but fans can sometimes overstay their welcome.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.