The fate of President-elect Donald J. Trump and democracy, explained by the Greek storyteller, Aesop, with a 21st-century update:
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream, and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?”
The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”
The frog is satisfied, and they set out. In midstream, the scorpion stings the frog.
The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp, “Why?”
The scorpion replies, “It’s my nature.”
As Inauguration Day looms, we’re almost halfway across the stream. America has cut a risky deal with its Scorpion-elect.
Many individuals, groups and ideals have tried crossing the stream with him — political rivals, the media, common decency — and he has stung them all.
Somehow the scorpion proved Aesop wrong, surviving every time.
But there is hope. The fable has been revised.
. . . In midstream, just as the scorpion is about to sting the frog (cue dramatic music!) a southern grasshopper mouse appears between them. The scorpion stings the mouse over and over.
But the mouse is immune to the venom and kills the scorpion. The frog and mouse make it to the other side.
Catching its breath, the grateful frog gasps, “Why did you kill the scorpion?”
The mouse replies, “It’s my nature.”
Yes, the southern grasshopper mouse is a natural predator of scorpions. Not only is it immune to a scorpion’s sting, the venom actually acts as a painkiller, enabling the mouse to kill the scorpion.
Which brings us to our Scorpion-elect. His venom — the lies, the predatory behavior, the hateful words — will be his undoing. It may require some timely intervention, but it will happen.
When it does, there will be schadenfreude, elation. Perhaps there will be a trace of sympathy. But that will pass, as will the pain and memory of his sting.
Mostly there will be relief.
The frog and the grasshopper mouse, safely on the other side of the stream, will survive.
It’s their nature.