FLOTSAM & JETSAM: The Washington royalty vs. the White House dictator
EMAIL: ssmith@igc.org

Monday, September 03, 2018

The Washington royalty vs. the White House dictator

Sam Smith - In the half century that I covered Washington, I can't recall - save for a couple of dead presidents - memorial events as large and lengthy as that for John McCain. While a war hero a long time ago, some 260 other soldiers and sailors received a Medal of Honor for their service in the Vietnam War without such attention.  And as far as his senatorial record went, there were many late members of the upper house who better deserved such treatment: Margaret Chase Smith and Gaylord Nelson just for starters. McCain was, for example, someone who regularly voted against the interests of women, blacks and gays.

There were other aspects of the ceremonies that seemed odd. Such as the role of Blll Clinton and George Bush in an event meant to honor political morality. And as Ben Speilberg noted on Facebook, in 2008, speaker Barack Obama tweeted, "John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent ofd the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about judgment when you think George Bush was right more than ninety percent of time." but at the McCain memorial service, the same Barack Obama said, "we never doubted we were on the same team."

Then I happened to watch a documentary on the British royal family and it hit me. The powerful of Washington have gained - albeit not earned - the proximate role of  American royals and Trump's sin has not been his ruination of America as a whole but the threat he poses to the Washington royalty aka establishment. The television media, for example, hardly notices an America outside of the capital (with a few exceptions such as Lester Holt). The news story has become increasingly capital-centric with those without power also without coverage.

Thus people like Bush, Clinton, McCain and Obama have been granted a largely non-critical status and while they are not literally a royalty, that doesn't  function too badly as as metaphor. And while the roles are not technically inherited, it has worked in that manner for the Bushes and lately even Chelsea Clinton is talking abut running for office.

Washington has become a royal family of politicians, media, contributors and lobbyists. Except for funerals, it's not allowed to brag about this; it just operates in that fashion. Meanwhile the story of the rest of America gets shortchanged, whether it is the water damage in Flint or some good bill passed by a state legislature.

Which is why we were expected to put aside our normal concerns and desires and stare for days at ceremonies and parades for a senator who, for example, only voted 3% of the time for environmental protection.