FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
An appetite for domination
Author Brad Thor tied together a couple of creepy media sideshows in a Tweet this afternoon:
— Brad Thor (@BradThor) February 12, 2014
The first incident Thor referred to was Geraldo Rivera scolding fellow Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly for daring to ask Barack Obama serious questions during his pre-Super Bowl interview… you know, the kind of questions the Obama-friendly media absolutely refuses to ask, ever. The kind of questions reserved for those grubby Republicans when they somehow manage to sneak into office.
“What you did was to strip him of his majesty, so to speak,” whined Rivera.
“I don’t think he has ‘majesty,’” O’Reilly replied. ”He’s not a king. I respect the office, but here’s the deal: He’s accountable to the people.”
Give O’Reilly credit for not immediately needing a barf bag when the servile Rivera complained about insufficient respect for His Glorious Imperial Highness’ majestic presence – a respect absolutely nobody in the media felt toward, say, George Bush. Either of them. And that’s the correct attitude to take. I don’t want the press to think asking pointed questions of any politician – whether I voted for, or against, them – as a violation of royal protocol. The problem with media bias is, for the most part, the way our ostensibly irreverent and inquisitive press treats Democrats, not so much the way they treat Republicans.
The other item Brad Thor referred to was NBC producer Shawna Thomas declaring on Twitter, in all caps: “HOLY CRAP LOOK AT THE FIRST LADY’S DRESS.” She added the hashtag “#BOWDOWN” to this bit of fangirl swooning.
It was indeed a very nice dress, as it ought to be, given that estimates place its cost north of $12,000. Weren’t these same media types popping the veins in their foreheads over the supposedly outrageous cost of Sarah Palin’s wardrobe just a few years ago?
The First Lady wearing that dress is married to a man who has driven the American economy into permanent double-digit real unemployment – you can pretend it’s only six-point-something percent if you ignore all the people who fled the workforce entirely – plus a bottomless pit of debt; he now routinely violates the law in order to preserve his Party’s political viability for the next election. The other day, Mrs. Obama regaled her long-suffering subjects by sending them a photo of her dogs eating a luxurious dinner off fine china plates.
“Bow down” is not really language Americans should be using with reference to their elected politicians and their unelected, but still extremely powerful, wives. And yet, there is a powerful appetite among the American Left, and some of the hapless non-ideological voters it uses as cannon fodder, for such bowing. That’s what Obama critics who marvel that his fans meekly swallow all those million-dollar vacations, luxurious golf outings, and star-studded dance parties are missing. All of that behavior seems unseemly for the chief beggar of a beyond-bankrupt government, which has once again declared that it can’t get through the next couple of years without spending over a trillion dollars more than we have given it. Obama’s fans don’t resent his unwavering determination to live, and govern, like a king. They love it. They want royalty. They want to be ruled.
Political leaders across the collectivist spectrum, from hardcore communism to “social democracy,” have profited handsomely by cultivating their image as the Aristocracy of Intent. Their good intentions and dazzling credentials entitle them to posh lifestyles, far more than any nasty little capitalists who might have gone out and earned the money to afford such things. You could show the average American liberal a photo from one of the Obamas’ diamond-studded soirees, tell them it was a party thrown by a corporate CEO with his own money, and watch them bubble over with rage. The people who claim to care about “income inequality” and “fairness” have not a word to say about the billions socked away in Fidel Castro’s bank accounts; he says he’s a “man of the people” from the balcony of whatever mansion he feels like residing in today, and they believe him. It’s amazingly easy to “earn” your riches in the eyes of the Left by mouthing a little socialist boilerplate.
There is also a quirk of liberal psychology that makes them more submissive to their rulers because of their own personal arrogance. Liberals believe they are better and more enlightened than the unwashed masses, particularly those who don’t subscribe to liberal dogma. Therefore, the leaders of the Left must be like unto gods. And gods deserve all the trappings of divinity, do they not?
President Obama has been shrewd to make a fetish out of living in obscene luxury. He knows the danger of shattering his followers’ illusions with acts of contrition and humility. There are people who will believe, at least subconsciously, that conditions in the United States can’t be that bad if the White House is smothered with opulence. A friend of mine who is well-versed in Napoleonic history recently told me of an observation made by the French emperor: when an empire stops glittering, it falls. Reluctance and modesty are not the allies of those who wish to project imperial authority.
This is not merely a superficial matter of golfing as much as you please, no matter how your predecessor in the White House might have been savaged for golfing less than half as often. Power fills a void in the human soul. That’s why most of human history has been filled with monarchs and strongmen. Even in modern times, in a republic that celebrates revolutionary independence, a lot of people want to believe there is a great council of brilliant minds standing by to run their lives. There must be men and woman wise and compassionate enough to “solve” society’s problems.
Some issues are so intimidating that people don’t mind handing their independence off to confident, appealing politicians who say they’ll be happy to make all the tough decisions. That’s a big factor in the socialist takeover of medicine, an industry where the consumers are more than a little afraid of the vendors, and where “commerce” is viewed more like horrible misfortune than the informed purchase of valuable products and services.
For generations, Americans have been persuaded to trade abstract liberties for concrete benefits. Who cares about that dusty old Constitution, when a nice gentleman or lady in a finely tailored suit offers to make your life better? Why insist on fealty to archaic rules written with quill pens, when smart people have great plans for using the might of government to solve our problems? What venerable philosophy is worth as much as the bundle of lollipops offered by socialists? These trades of liberty for benefits – usually the liberty and property of other people, confiscated to provide benefits for those the Ruling Class deems worthy – are tawdry and shameful when viewed in clinical terms, so their supporters don’t use clinical terms. The elegant fantasy of enlightened rulership in the name of “social justice” elevates the unpleasant reality of confiscation and redistribution into something noble and beautiful.
Naturally those who indulge in these fantasies want their favorite actors to dress appropriately for their roles. The inescapable truth of power is that it’s very profitable. Every big government is also a corrupt government, selling indulgences in exchange for vast fortunes. The apostles of Big Government rush to legitimize these transfers as quickly as possible, so behavior we would immediately recognize as sordid crime in the downscale environment of the local town council meeting becomes “economic policy” touted by a raft of experts on TV shows broadcast from the Beltway. Crime always becomes less repulsive when it’s made glamorous. It’s best to get the people accustomed to the wealth that comes from the sale of power; better still if they can be encouraged to applaud it. It helps that liberal politicians get to spend a lot of time in the company of big-name celebrity entertainers, whose wealth is classified as perfectly acceptable under the Politics of Envy, since they obviously earned it by making lots of Little People happy.
Yes, the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave contains a lot of nervous people who don’t mind being less free, if they think it brings them greater security – not just from crime and terrorism, but from the uncertainties of life. The appetite for domination stems from a lack of confidence, which makes those who display the trappings of great confidence attractive. There are people who desperately wish to believe their ruler, Barack Obama, deserves every bit of the power he has seized, and every glittering jewel of the wealth he indulges in. They want to live in a world run by someone like that. They want only such independence as their betters pronounce them fit to exercise. They don’t mind being portrayed as hapless victims by those who would relieve them of responsibility and protect them from consequence.
The American tradition holds that our inalienable rights cannot be surrendered, traded, or sold, even when we want to be rid of them. It asserts that no one has the right to take such power over the dignified, free, and responsible men and women of our great republic. We aren’t supposed to want, or need, saviors. Those ideals fill many of us with pride… and scare the hell out of others.