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Political Animal

God Save the King

By Brian Morton | Posted 3/30/2005

After the November election, a joke got passed around the internet: Queen Elizabeth, deciding that we hadn’t made the proper presidential decision, was “revoking” our independence. Henceforth, we should use words like “aluminium,” put the “u” back into “colour” and “favour,” and give up football and start playing rugby.

Well, ha-ha, because the joke’s on them. We went and got our own king, and he’s running the show like any good monarch. We call him “King George, the Second,” because he’s the second in his line, and since the last George we were subject to was the Third, it’s only appropriate that we’re going backward.

If the Brits don’t think the United States is a “real” monarchy, it’s understandable. But look closely and you’ll find that we have a lot more similarities than differences.

For starters, like a great monarch once said, “L’Etat, c’est moi.” This means that the boss does whatever the hell he wants. We’ve already got that down—wasn’t it our King George’s advisers who said that the commander in chief can do what he wants in time of war, including holding prisoners incommunicado, without access to courts or attorneys? That he can authorize the torture of suspected terrorists? They had the Tower of London—we’ve got Guantanamo Bay.

Legislatures are only useful when they do what you want; otherwise, ignore them—that’s what a true monarch does. When our king’s legislature asked for documents regarding those prisoners being hidden away or shipped off to be tortured by our “friends,” he told Congress what kings have told lawmakers for centuries: no.

Kings can hide evidence that points to their hypocrisies—like memos that say Osama bin Laden was at Tora Bora and our military let him get away. After the king has been safely protected from possible usurpers to the throne, it doesn’t matter if the things he said before are shown to be untrue when the documents finally surface—after all, he’s the king, right?

Kings can use public monies to convince the public that programs in their best interest need to be eliminated, just like King George’s road show to convince Americans that Social Security is failing, even if his proposed “plan”—he hasn’t really revealed it yet—will do nothing to fix the crisis he’s telling us about. And kings can keep out taxpayers who have genuine concerns and questions about his so-called plan, even if their money is paying for the road show. It’s sort of like the crown jewels of England—just because they are property of England doesn’t mean that the people actually get to see them. That would be tantamount to lèse-majesté—an insult to the royalty.

If you’re the king, when the government tells you that something you’re doing is wrong and you should stop, you can ignore them. That’s what King George did when the General Accountability Office told the administration that the fake TV news reports it had been putting out were illegal propaganda. The king said, “I don’t see it that way.” So they go on. The king has willed it.

When popular sentiment goes against you and the people start getting restless, your courtesans, like all good royal advisers, recommend that you remind them constantly of the last great threat to the nation. In this case, it would be GOP pollster Frank Luntz, whose message playbook for the Republicans argues that the people should constantly be reminded of Sept. 11 whenever things get hairy.

England’s King Henry VIII had no trouble with his courts—it was his clergy that pained him when he decided that he wanted to do what he wanted. So he simply created a new church, with him in charge. Our king doesn’t have the clergy problem—middle America’s pastors and priests are right there at his side, whispering in his ear. It’s his courts that are paining him, so he and his courtesans are doing whatever they can to bring them around. If it means changing rules that are hundreds of years old, like the Senate’s filibuster, so be it. That Republicans are calling their ruse “the constitutional option” rather than “the nuclear option” only highlights the duplicity.

The story is legendary: Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government he and his fellow Founding Fathers had chosen. “A republic,” he answered. “If you can keep it.”

So, Queen Elizabeth, you can keep your rugby and your colours and your “al-yoo-minnnie-um.” We’ve got our own king now. L’Etat, c’est George. And he does what he damned well pleases—ask Tony Blair if you don’t believe us.

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Political Animal archives

More from Brian Morton

The Fix (8/4/2010)

Police State (7/7/2010)

Funny Business (6/9/2010)

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