Column on The Closest to Royalty

The Closest to Royalty

Tibor R. Machan

With my regular exercise going full force, mostly so as to manage my
pretty awful sciatica, I get to watch the news for about a hour each day
now, while I sweat away on my treadmill. During the half our or forty five
minutes when I proceed with this to me quite undesirable exercise, I pick
and choose from a variety of news sources–CNN Headline, MSNBC, Fox-TV,
NBC-TV, CBS-TV or ABC-TV (if it’s the right time for the latters’
newscasts).

These days what there is a good deal of on most of these outlets is
idolatry, the treatment of something or someone as a God, a false God to
be sure. Or, as one of the NBC-TV morning news reporters from Washington,
DC, put it, "what comes the closest to royalty" in America, the first
couple, Michelle and Barack Obama.

And, yes, the couple strikes a good pose and has done pretty well at
impressing Europeans many of whom are, after all, still living under royal
rule–in Great Britain, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Spain, albeit
royalty with but a smattering of political clout. Still, somehow the
Europeans hang on to the image, at least, of being governed by some
god-sent person, someone one can well near worship.

What is puzzling to me, an emigrant from a country that up until the
second world war was a royal protectorate or something–with Admiral
Horthy as the regent–is why Americans, especially ones who end up being
entrusted with news reporting, think so highly of royalty. Why is it any
kind of plus for the president and first lady to amount to "what comes
closest to royalty," when the birth of the nation involved overthrowing
royalty and establishing the nemesis of it, namely, a republic? I consider
this a backsliding in our culture, nothing less. Not that we need to be
diplomatically ornery toward royalty abroad–diplomacy requires hard
swallowing sometimes–but gushing should be out of the question.

But there is something even more amiss with the reception the Obama couple
is getting from the Washington press corps. This is that they are so very
enchanted with their good looks, their elegance, their beautiful people
status. Mind you, I am actually very much in favor of beauty, including on
the part of the figureheads of a nation (for in a free society they aren’t
leaders, only presiding officers). But the mainstream commentators and
observers in our culture are supposed to be disdainful toward beauty,
including in women. It was the prominent liberal commentator Noami Wolf
who wrote the book, The Beauty Myth, which was to be the last liberal,
egalitarian word on the role of beauty in a just society–namely, it
should have no role, quite the opposite. It is to be scoffed at as
irrelevant in human relationships, something one tends to be born with and
therefore does not deserve! Yes, that is the official line.

So then why are these folks falling over themselves about the Obama
couple’s aesthetic and even sex appeal? Isn’t that inappropriate? Kind of
like hiring people in your university or company on the basis of, among
other things, how good looking they are! Sadly it calls to mind just how
easily the modern liberals, egalitarians, gave Bill Clinton a pass when
he, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of
America, was taking advantage of a young–admittedly willing–intern at
the White House. No feminist outcry, nada!

I would have nothing much against welcoming good looks on the part of
professionals provided it doesn’t overshadow competence and other relevant
qualifications. Why not prefer the attractive to the not so? Of course.
But that’s a right we have in choosing friends and associates that
egalitarians and liberals tend to want to abolish, demean, or at least a
right the exercise of which they find offensive.

So why, when one of their own turns out to be beautiful, don’t they remind
us of just how irrelevant that’s supposed to be and how much more
significant it is whether Mr. Obama’s policies are doing any good at all
in the quest to return the country to economic normalcy? Where is Noami
Wolf now?

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