Quote of the week

Andrew Heaton is ready for us to choose a King. Or a Queen, even:

We threw the baby out with the bathwater when we kicked the monarchy out of America, and we ought to bring it back. To be clear, I do not mean the sort of hereditary tyrants who rule North Korea, Saudi Arabia, or the New York Yankees. Rather, I’d like for us to get one of those cute, ornamental throne warmers the Europeans trot around to cut ribbons at events.

In America we’ve combined power and reverence in the office of the presidency, but legal authority and veneration complement each other about as well as Scotch and back-pain medication. It’s safer to ingest them separately.

How we got to this unhappy, um, state:

In America our head of government and head of state both problematically reside in the president. We can see that unholy union in full force during the spasm of pageantry which is the State of the Union address. President Jefferson rightly viewed the whole affair as pompous and monarchical, and sent Congress a letter instead.

Unfortunately the nimbus of deference surrounding the presidency has swelled with time. In 1956 a political scientist named Clinton Rossiter published The American Presidency, a tome sopping wet with sycophantic notions about the Oval Office. He described the commander-in-chief as “a combination of scoutmaster, Delphic oracle, hero of the silver screen, and father of the multitudes.”

Gag me. The president is the top bureaucrat, and there’s nothing more American than despising bureaucrats. The government is basically a giant Human Resources Department with tanks, and the president is in charge of it.

Of course, it would help if once in a great while the Congress would do something according to their job description, which surprisingly is not “trying to get reelected.”







8 comments »

  1. fillyjonk »

    19 March 2017 · 3:52 pm

    I’ve also contemplated if maybe splitting the office, call them “Home Minister” and “Foreign Minister” and let them each tend their own sheep.

    I suspect there’s no shortage of folks who would love a high-profile figurehead job where they get to throw state dinners and have a protection detail. I just doubt as a nation we should pay for that. (Maybe what we ACTUALLY need is a uniformed mascot like regions/cities of Japan have….that could fulfill the ribbon-cutting duties and it wouldn’t matter WHO was inside the suit.)

  2. CGHill »

    19 March 2017 · 4:04 pm

    I dunno. In this day and age, if you can throw a proper state dinner, you probably have to have a protection detail. Too many randos with sickness on the brain.

  3. McG »

    19 March 2017 · 4:13 pm

    In my opinion the position of Home Minister was meant to be parted out among officials knows Governors, of which we have 50 in 2017.

    The President’s domestic bailiwick was meant to be about like a federal commissioner of weights and measures.

  4. fillyjonk »

    19 March 2017 · 6:38 pm

    McG: I could get behind that. Both of those things.

  5. Holly H »

    20 March 2017 · 10:18 am

    “I’ve also contemplated if maybe splitting the office, call them “Home Minister” and “Foreign Minister” and let them each tend their own sheep”

    Love that idea. It’s absurd to expect one person to be in charge of both areas, and do justice to either side.

    As for a ‘uniformed mascot’, I can’t think of a better description of what we have now.

  6. CGHill »

    20 March 2017 · 10:47 am

    I read that as “uninformed mascot,” and realized that it would work just about as well.

  7. Roger O Green »

    20 March 2017 · 11:34 am

    I always thought Ronald Reagan should have been king.

  8. CGHill »

    20 March 2017 · 1:25 pm

    There was a comedy piece — I don’t think it was on SNL — which purported to be a political ad. It showed Reagan being all regal and all, and then cut to the card: Mondale for President. And then it cut back to Ronaldus Maximus, with the message: “Make Reagan King.”

    Wonder how that might have worked out.

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