Musings & Current Affairs

Musings & Current Affairs

The Current Affairs Group covers news and other items currently focused on in the general media, with articles, commentary and analysis by the Griot Girls. Followers of the Griot Girls may submit items for discussion by the Griot Girls using various sections of this Group.

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A Tale of Two Wannabe Emperors (Adapted from Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes and the 2012 Presidential Campaign)

Very many years ago there was an Emperor who was so exceedingly fond of new clothes that he spent inordinate caches of money outfitting his wardrobe. He focused on enhancing his wardrobe to the exclusion of reviewing his soldiers, overseeing the operation of his empire, or engaging in other emperor-like duties.

One day, a pair of con men breezed into town, and, knowing of the Emperor’s matchless pride in his appearance, took the opportunity to capitalize on this. They convinced the Emperor that they could weave him the finest cloth and create the finest garments ever imaginable. An added bonus was that his regalia would be admired by all but the stupidest, least informed and unworthy citizens, those who were not fortunate enough to even be able to see his magnificent outfit. This notion worked well for His Excellency, because he indeed was not worried about “those people”...whatever percent they were. His focus was on his appearance, and he was convinced that those worthy of him would laud and praise him, and those who did not were of little or no consequence.

Aha! He thought, “If I donned these magical garments, then I would be able to discern those in my empire who are unwise and unfit for their posts, and fire the rest!” he then paid the con men handsomely and commissioned them to get to work.

Day after day the “weavers” pretended to craft the finest garments, worthy only of the wisest, most wonderful leader known to man.

Frequently the Emperor wondered how the project was coming along, yet he dared not venture into the Loom room, for fear that he just might not be able to see the fine fabric...Heaven forbid! Not willing to run the risk of being stupid, he sent in his minions. Time and time again they, though seeing nothing at all on the looms, reported marvelous progress, buying into the con game for fear of being perceived as stupid and unworthy. This continued through the weaving, cutting, sewing and fitting process, and through completion of the royal regalia.

No one in the Emperor’s employ dared risk a royal firing, as they knew he did it best, so they spoke effusively of the majestic nature of the project, though they knew in their hearts that they saw nothing there...nothing of consequence...nothing at all! Surely they were not stupid, were they??? Everyone in the royal employ ranted and raved, offering unwavering support for the project so as to cover their tails and appear to be of consequence.

Word got out in the community and spread throughout the masses that this splendid cloth was indeed fit only for the eyes of the intelligentsia. As the propaganda took flight, the “weavers” demanded and indeed got more money from the treasury (because you know the Emperor didn’t use his own money for this national project).

The day arrived for the royal fitting, and, as did all of his emissaries, the Emperor knew in his heart of hearts that he saw nothing on the looms, yet he stepped out of his clothes, and was helped into the Emperor's New Clothes, item by item, convincing himself that though it made no sense to him, his people seemed to see it, so it must be OK. He then stepped out and paraded before the nation, bearing his empty soul in hopes that he would be seen fit to govern, as so many of his supporters, in fact the entire empire, seemed to see him as something he knew he was not.

He paraded, his confidence mounting, until that quiet voice in the crowd, the innocent child declared “But he’s not wearing anything at all!” Oh dear me! The crowds came to their senses. The murmur roared to a frenzy as the masses acknowledged the truth, that the Emperor was indeed an empty vessel. But did that sway the prideful Emperor? Not one bit. He knew that the game was over, but he held his head high and pressed on naked through the streets, paying no attention to the noise in the market, unwilling to admit that he was played like a fiddle.

In far more recent times there was a former governor who was exceedingly fond of making money. He was also fond of firing people, so, rather than build companies the old fashioned way, from the ground up, he found a more expedient way to accomplish both objectives. He, having access to lots and lots and lots of family money, got together with a couple of buddies and raided large corporations, chopped them up like scrap metal, fired the employees, and made off with huge profits for himself and his fellow corporate raiders, creating some new businesses but leaving in their wake, broken lives, shattered dreams, loss of pensions, benefits, etc.

One day, after years of firings and wealth amassing, the Governor who once prided himself on being moderate in order to woo his constituency, decided to run for the highest office in the land and declared himself severely conservative in an apparent effort to appease the rapidly growing ultra conservative wing of his party. He realized that should he succeed in his mission, he could be instrumental in shaping policy and signing legislation that would secure the provisions enabling the exceedingly wealthy to continue to amass even greater wealth at the expense of those "inconsequentials" who he perceived as parasites, sucking the very life out of the millionaires and billionaires through government “entitlement” programs. Could that be why he ships his money overseas? Is it to deny those “undeserved” access to it? Clearly it’s better that people in foreign countries benefit from his wealth than those “illegals” and their ilk in his own country.

The Governor waged a primary campaign of terror, cutting off at the ankles, by any means necessary, any who dared to oppose him. They fell like flies as he massaged his positions on any and all issues. He left the debates victorious. And in his wake he left the bitter and disgruntled, who maintained for a time that the governor’s tactics were dishonest and brutal. They called him on his chameleonic nature, as he adjusted his position on issues with every challenge. Whatever he needed to be at the time was what he became, and he did it well.

And then one day multi-billionaires breezed into the campaign, who some claim may have questionable dealings, self-proclaimed really rich guys, "birthers", and droves of hangers-on offering questionable counsel on how best to run his campaign, who to choose as his running mate, and what position he should take on myriads of issues, all in hopes of benefitting from future jaded legislation to gain ‘advantage wealthy.’

As the nation, in fact, the world watched, the governor bobbed and weaved, trying to avoid contact with his own starkly contrasting convictions, morphing constantly as his not so diverse advisors and supporters pushed and pulled him in different directions, urging him to show his compassionate side, get tougher, remember to use those code words and dog whistles we’ve been practicing, double down on your opposition to the health care law, let them know that you care about health care, after all, it was your brainchild, slam entitlements and those 47%ers for whom you have no use, appeal to the 100% for whom you care so deeply, and on and on and on…And he listened to them, all of them, and seemed to believe that if he says it the people will believe it, and when he shifts positions no one will notice, and they will believe his latest position, knowing in his heart of hearts that he is portraying himself as something he is not, again and again.

As the Governor was increasingly exposed to the nation and the world, his elusive positions on the gravest of issues portrayed him to many as a man of little or no conviction. With the confidence of yet another “successful” debate in his arsenal, he forged ahead, head high on the campaign trail, much like the Emperor, mindless of the innocents-the voices in the crowd crying “but he’s not wearing anything at all”.

The author Helen Hanna co-hosts with Vertamae Grosvenor, The Griot Girls Media Show & Online Magazine at http://griotgirls.com, @griotgirls, @griogirls on twitter