Sunday, May 07, 2006

On monarchs, in spirit if not in fact

From William Hazlitt’s “On the Spirit of Monarchy,” published in The Liberal, 1823, collected in The Pleasure of Hating (2005)
We make kings of common men, and are proud of our own handy-work. We take a child from his birth, and we agree, when he grows up to be a man, to heap the highest honours of the state upon him, and to pay the most devoted homage to his will. Is there any thing in the person, “any mark, any likelihood,” to warrant this sovereign awe and dread? No: he may be little better than an idiot, little short of a madman, and yet he is no less qualified for king.

From an an interview the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag conducted with George W. Bush on May 7, 2006, Bush's response to the question, "What was the most wonderful moment in your terms of being President so far?"
The best moment was—you know, I've had a lot of great moments. I don't know, it's hard to characterize the great moments. They've all been busy moments, by the way. I would say the best moment was when I caught a seven-and-a-half pound large mouth bass on my lake. (Laughter.)

From William Hazlitt’s “On the Spirit of Monarchy”
There is a cant among court-sycophants of calling all those who are opposed to them “the rabble,” “fellows,” “miscreants,” &c. . . . Whatever is opposed to power, they think despicable; whatever suffers oppression, they think deserves it. They are ever ready to side with the strong, to insult and trample on the weak.

From the New York Times, December 20, 2005
Mr. Bush strongly hinted that the government was beginning a leak investigation into how the existence of the program was disclosed. It was first revealed in an article published on the New York Times Web site on Thursday night, though some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists had been omitted.

From William Hazlitt’s “On the Spirit of Monarchy”
The worthlessness of the object does not diminish but irritate the propensity to admire. It serves to pamper our imagination equally, and does not provoke our envy. All we want is to aggrandize our own vain-glory at second hand; and the less of real superiority or excellence there is in the person we fix upon as our proxy in this dramatic exhibition, the more easily can we change places with him, and fancy ourselves as good as he.

From Hardball, May 1, 2003, collected at
CHRIS MATTHEWS: The president there—look at this guy! We're watching him. He looks like he flew the plane. He only flew it as a passenger, but he's flown—

PAT CADDELL: He looks like a fighter pilot.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: He looks for real. What is it about the commander in chief role, the hat that he does wear, that makes him—I mean, he seems like—he didn't fight in a war, but he looks like he does.

From William Hazlitt’s “On the Spirit of Monarchy”
The more absurd the fiction, the louder was the noise made to hide it—the more mischievous its tendency, the more did it excite all the frenzy of the passions. . . . There was nothing so odious or contemptible but it found a sanctuary in the more odious and contemptible perversity of human nature. The barbarous Gods of antiquity reigned in contempt of their worshippers!

From USA Today, October 1, 2005
[Bush’s] sunny presentation of the situation in Iraq is part of a renewed push by the administration to win support for the war effort from an increasingly reluctant American public.

It conflicts with the news from Iraq and some assessments from top commanders.

From William Hazlitt’s “On the Spirit of Monarchy”
Really, that men born to a throne should employ the brief span of their existence here in doing all the mischief in their power, in levying cruel wars and undermining the liberties of the world, to prove to themselves and others that their pride and passions are of more consequence than the welfare of mankind at large, would seem a little astonishing, but that the fact is so.

From Time, May 1, 2006
Presidential advisers believe that by putting pressure on Iran, Bush may be able to rehabilitate himself on national security, a core strength that has been compromised by a discouraging outlook in Iraq. "In the face of the Iranian menace, the Democrats will lose," said a Republican frequently consulted by the White House. However, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll this April 8-11, found that 54% of respondents did not trust Bush to "make the right decision about whether we should go to war with Iran."

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