Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity."
~~William Shakespeare: Richard III
A major archaeological discovery was announced in Leicester, England this week.
Experts have confirmed that skeletal remains found during the excavation of a Leicester parking lot are those of Britain's King Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet kings.
Richard (above, portrayed by Kevin Spacey) was killed in 1485 by Tudor enemies during the Battle of Bosworth Field.
British officials authenticated the remains through the thoroughly modern method of DNA "fingerprinting" connecting King Richard to a 21st century male descendant of Richard's sister, Anne.
The serendipitous timing of this archeological discovery has prompted Michael Hirsh, writing in The National Journal, to engage in a nifty bit of colligation, a 17th century word rarely used today, but one most appropriate this week, since colligation refers to ... "the abstract tying together of things not previously seen as connected."
Hirsh does not refer to colligation (I take full blame), but he does embody the term when he connects what he "ranks as one of the most titillating archaeological discoveries ever," to the current US Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on the confirmation of Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary.
Pointing out "that history is a fluid thing, and it's invariably the winning side that writes it," he continues:
"Sure, now we can say these are King Richard's bones, curved spine and all, but we still know little else about him. The victorious Tudors killed King Richard in 1485 -- apparently with an ax through the head at the Battle of Bosworth Field -- and then induced a first-rate spinmeister, William Shakespeare, to paint him as one of history's worst villains. What we don't know is whether that is true."
The fluidity of history brings Hersh to the current Washington stage on which Chuck Hagel does battle with his Republican inquisitors:
"Which history are we to believe coming out of last week's brutal Chuck Hagel hearing, and which will dominate in the next four years?
"Because this is what the current conflict over America's next defense secretary -- and the future direction of the administration's foreign policy -- is really about: two different readings of history.
"It is what Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an erstwhile Hagel friend who turned into a caustic critic, was referring to when he said that 'fundamental' differences remained between him and President Obama's nominee to run the Pentagon.
"On one side are fierce Hagel critics such as McCain and Bill Kristol (above, left), Washington's neocon-in-chief, who refuse to back down from their belief that the Iraq invasion of nearly a decade ago was just, and who continue to support the aggressive projection of U.S. military power abroad, especially in Syria.
"On the other side are Obama, Hagel, and others who warned -- quite presciently -- of the pitfalls of that policy, and who are running away from military intervention abroad at full speed, even as they ratchet up the 'small footprint' use of drones.