I saw a great bumper sticker last week. It sported a “W” with a crown on its head, surrounded by a thick, black circle and a line through the middle. It was slapped onto the derriere of a Hummer. Last place I would have looked for a sticker that said, in essence, No More King George. VW Beetle remake? Yes. Hummer. No.
But such is life in the nation’s capital these days. Even gas guzzlers are finding the president’s attitude a bit too imperious for their tastes.
“Imperious” is the word, though. Acting like he was crowned president instead of being elected. Probably wasn’t even elected at all in his first go-round at the polls. And by a less-than-impressive margin the second time. No national mandate there. No universal love and affection from the American people. Acts like it, though. Part of the imperiousness.
What else would you expect with friends, family and other followers like his, including former Education Secretary Bill Bennett (appointed by King George I) and mother Barbara?
Bennett, as we all now know, insulted the world by saying on his talk show last week that one way to reduce crime would be to abort all black fetuses. Then, he took the manly approach and claimed he was quoted out of context.
Here’s the quote: “But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.” Out of context? Call me crazy, but it sounds pretty contextual to me.
He did add that such a measure would constitute “an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.”
What he calls placing his remarks in context, I call reiterating his virulent opposition to abortion and excusing his race-baiting self.
The White House response was its usual: imperious. Spokesman Scott McClellan called the comments “not appropriate.” Is he competing for the Art of the Understatement Emmy Award for 2005? I’d give that rejoinder the Michael Brown FEMA Award for Efficacy. Or I’d call it, you guessed it, imperious.
As milk-toasty as McClellan’s response was, it still incited some of King George II’s most loyal followers to foam and foment. A Web site claiming to represent right-wing Bush loyalists, theconservativevoice.com, called McClellan’s response silly.
“NONSENSE!” a columnist wrote of McClellan’s response to Bennett’s remarks. “Bennett is especially well qualified to discuss abortion, crime and race. And the caller, who correctly opposed abortion, but for a bad reason, needed to be enlightened. Bennett did precisely that, using the Socratic method. And was reviled by the vile for doing so.” Oh. Now we understand. And we promise not to be so vile in the future.
Such attitudes, while inexplicable to those of us not born to the purple nor born in an asylum, make perfect sense when taken in the context of King George II’s upbringing. Consider, for example, his mother’s remarks while touring the Houston Astrodome, supposedly to offer succor to the indigent as the Queen Mother. After viewing the evacuees, she told NPR, “What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas.”
She also surmised, “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this _ this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.”
Where were her Republican talking points? What’s scary is she lost, forgot or never received them, and this was the REAL Queen Mother talking. Yeesh!
Maybe the aristocracy thinks it’s OK to act this way when your party controls Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court. Maybe King George II thinks giving us plebeians a look inside his world of privilege is such an honor that we’ll love him forever for so doing. There’s a word for that kind of inside-out thinking, too. Imperious.
(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)CompuServe.com.)