Washington on the Euphrates

The year was 1974. I stood in awe at the Cairo Museum surrounded by exquisite artifacts from the time of King Tut. Twenty years later, still fascinated by Egyptian culture, I studied hieroglyphics, and gave my digital paintings Egyptian names like Iaru and Hatshetsut. It seems, however, that the White House has taken a divergent path to Egyptology, namely the concept of a supreme ruler.

According to University College London, the role of a king in Egypt was "to make what is Right happen, to annihilate what is Wrong"(http://www.digitalegypt.ucl.ac.uk/ideology/king/kingrepertory.html), a philosophy that has been translated into top-down military and economic control. That control, as Frank Rich has told us, includes "insidious efforts to blur the boundaries between the fake and the real", to the point of hiring paid hostesses at an inaugural ball to spy on the comments of journalists. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/20/arts/20rich.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5088&en=9245d7b440e36c54&ex=1266642000&partner=rssnyt. According to Rich, "When the Bush administration isn't using taxpayers' money to buy its own fake news, it does everything it can to shut out and pillory real reporters who might tell Americans what is happening in what is, at least in theory, their own government."

We can find the same sense of royal prerogative at the time of King James in Great Britain. Catherine Drinker Bower, in her excellent biography of Sir Francis Bacon, tells us, "It was not part of the people's business to criticize royal expenditures or the royal privilege of granting commercial monopolies to palace favorites. Nor was it the commoners' business to query great matters and mysteries of state."

The current tenant of the White House has bragged of spending his royal political capital, but as a lifelong spendthrift he has taken the nation politically and economically into moral bankruptcy. An advocate of “no adult left behind”, he has imposed the empty coffers of his vision on friend and foe alike. It is not only former President Jimmy Carter who has pointed to Bush's “overt reversal of America's basic values”. Other highly-qualified commentators on the Bush administration's sabotaging of democratic principles are speaking out as well. Al Gore offers the unique perspective of a former leader and winner of the popular vote for the Oval Office. In his new book, "The Assault on Reason", Gore writes: "the gruesome acts of torture committed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were a direct consequence of the culture of impunity — encouraged, authorized and instituted by President Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld." Additionally, "Bush's theory of his own power is so vast that, in practice, it amounts to an assertion of power that is so obviously unconstitutional -- a power to simply declare what provisions of law he will and will not comply with."(Penguin Books, 2007).

If Bush's one word litany is composed of "me me me", how different is this from Hillary Clinton's political trinity of "me myself and I"? If Bush's linear thinking extends to the mirror and back, then Hillary's goes to the ATM and back. Make no mistake: her loyalties are tied to royalties from the Doughboys and she is heavily beholden to them. Like Bush, she seems incapable of admitting her mistakes and apologizing. On her vote to support the war in Iraq, she will only say, "I wouldn't have voted that way if I knew what I know now". Great leaders, though, take the information at hand and use it to make great decisions. Hillary lacked the conviction to just say No. Or maybe she suffers from an unfortunate syndrome known as "please-others-so-they'll-like-me".

Who else is on the political horizon for the hot seat of American politics? Fred D. Thompson, who is an excellent actor on television's "Law and Order", would be another Square in the Chair. Rudy Giuliani had the guts to confront 9/11 in person, but carries some heavy personal baggage. Obama still has to overcome the Name Game. John Edwards stepped into a celebrity haircut brouhaha and followed it by accepting $55,000 for a speech on poverty to college students. And as an inhabitant of the land of the seventh decade, I can tell you personally that age does make a difference, to John McCain as well as to myself. Believe me, if you are fortunate enough to reach your seventies you will find yourself in a foreign land with an incomprehensible language. There are, of course, two unannounced dark horses waiting in the wings - Mike Bloomberg, who remains an intriguing possibility, and Al Gore, who turned political loss into personal triumph.

The next year will provide ample fodder for reasonable people to consider reasonable alternatives. As for me, I'm tired of Oedipus Wrecks, but I don't see Lady Chillary as the solution.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2007