Thursday, October 20, 2005

Loving the Emperor

Gene Healy wrote an interesting piece in Reason online, concerning Americans' love affair with the Imperial Presidency, as manifested in a current television show starring Geena Davis.

"what's interesting about the show isn't the idea of a woman president, and it certainly isn't the hackneyed dialogue. If C in C is worth watching at all, it's for what it tells us about modern, popular views of the presidency. Judging by the first three episodes, and the show's popularity, the romance of presidential power transcends left and right.
"Geena Davis' Mac Allen is an independent, and if her politics are thus far difficult to discern, it may be because they consist of convictions shared by both parties, such as dedication to a militarized drug war and a hyper-Wilsonianism that sees all the world's quarrels as our own.
"there can be no doubt that the Imperial Presidency is alive and well. And most Americans, liberal or conservative, can't imagine it any other way. The public is no longer content to accept a mere chief magistrate, charged with faithful execution of the laws; instead, over the 20th century, the president has been transformed into a national Father-Protector, who is supposed to keep us safe from everything from economic dislocation to bad weather."

Though the facts of the American Empire should seem crystal clear to just about everyone who cares to look, all too many people are still convinced that this country is a constitutional republic. To steal the line from a movie, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled is convincing people he did not exist. So long as the illusion of a republic persists, Americans will not challenge the American Empire, and keep thinking it's the measure of being "presidential" when Geena Davis - or Martin Sheen, for that matter - order other countries blown up.

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