The Bull McCabe is one of the great characters of Irish literature, and if you have ever seen the film The Field you will know what I am talking about. Richard Harris was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a character who first showed up in playwright John B. Keane’s brilliant play, also called The Field, about a man possessed who can see no wrong in demanding his rights even when murder, mayhem, and violence are involved. All that matters is that he wins and gets to keep his field and his power.
Donald Trump reminds me of the Bull, a man so accustomed to getting his own way that laws, customs and morality seem to mean little or nothing.
Like Trump, the Bull is obsessed with imposing his will on everyone and everything. In the process, he loses sight of his humanity and decency.
The Bull has cultivated a field for decades, but now the woman who owns it has died and it must be sold. Like Trump, the Bull is fixated on his objective: to get that field at all costs.
The Bull Trump wants to bulldoze through legislation on immigrants, refugees and Mexicans in days, rather than carry out a completely political process involving Congress and his advisors (the two generals in his cabinet knew nothing about the refugee ban). He either misunderstands fundamentally how the U.S. government works, or is laying plans for a very Republican coup.
The Bull McCabe would countenance no opposition either. Even when the church, a visiting Yank and many in the village disagree about the future of the field and who should own it, the Bull sees no other reality than his own.
Sound familiar? Then there’s Bull’s son, desperately trying to escape his father’s shadow, but the madness of the Bull infects his child who will stop at nothing to achieve his own objectives.
Like the Bull, Trump cannot see what is coming down the tracks: a judgment day on his activities, a searing insight into his true motives, a clear exposition of when rational thought fades and madness begins.
By the end of the play the Bull is quite mad. He is seen trying to stop the waves lapping over the body of his son like King Canute of old. In that climactic scene in the film Harris embodies that madness, inhabits it, owns it.
Will that be Trump’s fate too? We know he is delusional with facts to feed his own fevered brain and presented as his own reality.
How long will it be until Bull-like, he loses it altogether and can no longer be reached by a rational human being?
Actions like elections have consequences as Bull realizes when he kills his enemy who is taking his field. His life then spins out of control.
Does Trump realize that as he gazes around an incensed world that sees him as a desperate despot after less than two weeks in power? He, like the Bull, looks like King Canute trying to stop the multicultural and interconnected realities of our world.
The American people did not sign up for attacks on Mexico, locking down the border, screaming “no” at immigrants and refugees, imagining crowd sizes, or attacking the media.
Trump, like Bull, appears to be living in a long-ago world when powerful white men ran the show and all others kowtowed. He is about to find out the realities are very different.