American Royalty

There’s something been bugging me lately and I’m gonna vent about it a little. So if you came here for something writerly, you can go ahead and skip this one.

I think the title says it all: American Royalty. We have it, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. To me, it’s sorta disgusting, too.

An example: this week, Obama went to the Washington, DC Auto Show. Well, big whoopty. I know there are folks out there who think that kind of thing is cool. They wanna know everything a celebrity—and by that I mean anyone who’s famous, regardless of why—is up to, what they eat for breakfast, and what color their underwear is. Man, some of ’em, if you could get in there and write an article on how they arrange their underwear drawer, you’d make a mint.

Okay, I realize he’s the president, and they do that all the time. I heard the same kind of stuff with W, and it disgusted me too. I really never gave a crap that he went to his ranch in Texas and cleared brush. Okay, so he’s got the dignity to do his own work—unless you’re a bit of a cynic like me and figure he did that for the publicity. I gotta wonder at how quick he gave up living out there once he was out of office.

It seems to me the Obama-loving media is a little worse now, though. I mean, they made a major thing out of Michelle eating lunch at some school last week. So what?

I have an uncle who worked at AQ Chicken in Springdale, Arkansas and happened to be there one time when Bill Clinton was coming to town. Now, if you know anything at all about this area, AQ Chicken is famous. They’re known—or were—for their excellent chicken dinners (imagine that), and for good food in general. Anyway, Clinton was in town for one reason or another and one of the things he wanted to do was eat at AQ. My uncle’s shift ended before Clinton showed up, but he said there were already Secret Service all over the place, walking through vacant lots that sit close by, things like that. I also worked with a guy who went to a Razorback basketball game when Clinton did, and he told us how everybody had to go through metal detectors and the like.

That kind of thing made me wonder what kind of a headache it had to be when Obama went to the car show. Because of security, the president rarely goes somewhere on a whim, so you know that one was planned out to the nth degree.

I’m not even gonna go into the whole Brad/Angelina/Jennifer circus. If you wanna know about that, stand at line at your local supermarket or big box store. The tabloids will tell you plenty, and most of it contradictory.

The one that irks me most is Gabrielle Giffords.

Look, getting shot in the head is horrible. Having to go through so much rehab, learning to walk and talk again, all because some nutjob bought a gun from a sloppy gun store owner who didn’t do his paperwork right sucks big time.

But had anyone outside her constituency ever heard of this woman before this happened? Maybe I live a little too far under my rock, but I’d never heard her name. Just as I’d never heard the names of any of the other victims that day.

But who gets the attention? She does. Why? Because she’s in congress.

And, oh yeah: her husband’s an astronaut.

Well la-de-da.

I’m sure she’s a wonderful person. But when I heard all the hullabaloo her colleagues were spewing when she decided to retire—something I think she should have done a long time ago—was enough to make me wanna puke. NPR—unfortunately my only source of news—interviewed one congresswoman who must have come close to shorting out the microphone, she was so tear-wracked (yeah, I know, that purple prose, but you should listen to the news some time).

I had to ask myself: would they make such a big deal over someone who wasn’t in congress? I mean, you hear about how Giffords is doing in her rehab, but you rarely hear anything about the other victims. I realize they didn’t all get shot in the head and live, but if you think the event was any less traumatic for them just because they weren’t a politician, wake up and smell the coffee.

And even more, I have to wonder how someone less prestigious would have dealt with the situation. I mean, thanks to her status, she went to a top-notch rehab center in Houston or Dallas—I can’t remember which—and you can bet that wasn’t cheap. But, she’s in congress, her husband’s an astronaut.

They’re American Royalty.

If that had been someone off the street, no way would they have ended up where Giffords did. Their insurance wouldn’t cover it. And NPR treated it like she was just amazing because she went to this place.

We Americans like to think we’ve thrown off that yoke of royalty. We take pride in it, refer back to the Revolutionary War and point out how we devised a new system that didn’t involve the trappings of royalty and, more importantly, excluded the privilege.

And yet…get elected to a federal office. Go ahead. I dare you. Then go serve one day and quit. Guess what? You have that paycheck for the rest of your life. Along with the benefits. Wanna reduce the deficit and get better politicians at the same time? Put in term limits and make the jobs low-paying with hardly any benefits. And take away that lifetime pension that goes with it. See how many jerks show up during the election cycle then.

Yeah, that’s pretty simplistic and probably wouldn’t work. They’d still find ways around it. Heck, Obama made something like $6 million in 2010, most of that off a ghostwritten—or so it’s purported—book. That $400,000 annual salary he made as president wasn’t much compared to that, was it? The vast majority of those who “serve” in public office are millionaires. It’s the only way you can afford to run for office in the first place these days.

But that makes them the aristocracy, lording it over all us little subjects.

I’m not offering a solution here. I’m just airing something that’s bothered me for years. Probably bothers a lot of other folks, too. And if you’re one of those who likes to follow celebrity, likes to know what famous people are doing to take you out of your own supposedly humdrum life, that’s your right.

But I’m not one of those people. I guess that’s why I don’t watch TV much or read magazines like People.

I just don’t see the point.

And that’s my rant for this week.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s