Our Imperial Family
Watched some of Rome
this weekend, thanks to a few days of free HBO. I loved I, Claudius
and I read Colleen McCullough's books, and so far the show is pretty good. Some of the actors don't look like the characters as I imagined them, but there's lots of nudity and explicit sex and graphic violence, so I'm happy.I, Claudius
and the McCullough books (and Rome
) focus in large part on the internal machinations of the leading political families, all of them striving for more power, money, land. A slight insult to the wrong family's dignitas
could get your throat cut or land confiscated or your children enslaved. You had venality and greed and stupidity and incompetence...is this all starting to sound familiar?
The closest we come right now to an Imperial family are the Bushes, since 2 of the last 3 Presidents come from that family and the governor of a major state is another member. But it hasn't been an especially good week for them, has it? First we have the current President's handling of the disasters on the Gulf Coast--maybe you've heard about that? Then today I see the current President's father up on the stage with Bill Clinton talking about the fund they're starting for hurricane relief, and some reporter asks what he thinks of the media criticism of his son.
Now, perhaps this wasn't the right venue (or the right person) to be asking for this sort of comment. Do we expect Bush pere
to come out and slam Bush fils
? No. But what he said was bizarre. He said that he and his wife were proud of their son, and that anyone who wanted to criticize the President should talk to Barbara, but if they did, they'd want to bring along their flak jacket.
Methinks I'd much rather tell Barbara Bush that I've found her son's performance sorely lacking than explain to those who lost family members during the last seven days why FEMA seemed to be actively conspiring against them. There's a saying, I forget how it goes, about how the truth is the mightiest armor. Or, in this case, the mightiest flak jacket.
And what about that fearsome matron? Speaking on NPR's Marketplace
, Barbara Bush said about those who have been relocated to Houston:
Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to Houston," Barbara Bush told NPR.
"What I’m hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this --this is working very well for them."
I'm sure it is. Aside from all that death and suffering and the loss of their homes and just about every material possession.
It's been said (though it's now been discredited, I think) that the Roman Empire fell because the lead in the aqueducts affected the brains of the city's inhabitants. What's our excuse? How did we put our lives in the hands of these people?