In Line for the Throne?

King RomneyRepublicans are royalists. They’re groupies, attracted by star power and into hierarchies which hold out the promise of taking a turn in the spotlight for even the briefest moment of fame.

Although the Latin scholars among us know well the ‘re’ in Republic refers to ‘res’–i.e. the things or concerns of the people (publius), Republicans think it’s short for ‘rex.’ That makes it more consistent with their preconceived notions about how society ought to be organized–in layers. Similarly, the ‘re’ in responsible is cut off and reduced to signify repetition. So, a responsible act is one that answers to or reflects a prompt, like an echo. In practice, to be a responsible conservative is to do what one is told without question and the moral import of the act isn’t even considered. Responsible Republicans are automatons.

It makes the rex gig easy, if the subjects are compliant. Better yet, if they’re adoring fans, eager to do the adored one’s bidding, especially if all that’s demanded is a vote. Moreover, since a vote is worthless, unless it’s used, the candidate for the royal role need not even demand. All he has to do is ask for the chance to take a turn as a rotating ruler for a term or two. Rotating royalty is the genius of democracy. Every man can aspire to be king, or just share the spotlight during the primary rounds. Indeed, any man can be elected. Ronald Reignin’ proved it.

The only problem with this route to the royal throne is the fans. Fans are fickle. They have to be constantly entertained and rewarded for their attention. Obviously, Rex publican operatives have figured this out and it accounts, in addition to the need to depress the thinking electorate, for the constant barrage of teasing tidbits of scandal to keep the fans’ attention from wandering.

On the other hand, the adoring fan base and general disaffection otherwise with the political process, makes the royal presidency an easy gig, as both double ‘R’ and Dubya demonstrated in spades. It would seem tailor-made for Willard, except for the fact that his moralistic robotic demeanor seems to be turning the fan base off. His apparent preference for euphemisms led me to think of eulogies and thence to the hypothesis that perhaps what people perceive is a certain resemblance to the local undertaker — a necessary fixture in our communities, but not one that’s courted.

So, I wondered if there’s a tradition of the undertaker as eulogist — a person called upon, when no-one has anything really false to say and a general praise for having lived at all is sufficient. That’s when I found a poet undertaker, one Thomas Lynch, who happens to live in Michigan, whence Romney hails, and who, if nothing else, is proof that speaking true can still be found there. Listen.

BBC Radio 4 Archive Thomas Lynch Essay by Thomas Lynch

Comparing Willard to an undertaker is probably unfair. And then there’s John Cleese Eulogy for Graham Chapman which alerts us to the phrase, “mindless good taste.” Is that what Willard brings to the table, upon which there’s not enough food for the children?

Then there’s Bruce Springsteen’s new offering, “We take care of our own,” in which the first line refers to the “door that holds the throne.” Seems like there’s something to that royal theme.

Photo of Mitt Romeny: by Gage Skidmore and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Crown licensed by  on © Ivan Ponomarev and composited by

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."