The Abandoned Prefectures: A Tragedy In One Act
Oh, but how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child (Emperor). Who, truly, can endure a wanton blindness to sacrifice and service so keen that it cuts to the very bone through even the toughest hides, leathered over many decades of exposure to the withering radiation of the Fourth Estate, the hard and ceaseless rains of the campaign trail and the cruel sting of the crop of franchise. Consider the plight of 253 Prefects of some local renown:
In recent weeks, a widespread belief has taken hold among Democratic House members that they have dutifully gone along with the White House on politically risky issues -- including the stimulus plan, the health-care overhaul and climate change -- without seeing much, if anything, in return. Many of them are angry that Obama has actively campaigned for Democratic Senate candidates but has done fewer events for House members.
The boiling point came Tuesday night during a closed-door meeting of House Democrats in the Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) excoriated White House press secretary Robert Gibbs's public comments over the weekend that the House majority was in doubt and that it would take "strong campaigns by Democrats" to avert dramatic losses.
"What the hell do they think we've been doing the last 12 months? We're the ones who have been taking the tough votes...."1
Histories of this kind suggest to finem respice that perhaps there might be hope for the many hundreds of Kremlinologists forced out of work in the wake of the abrupt collapse of the Berlin Wall during Egon Krenz's watch. (Many of these heroes found only limited consolation in Krenz's four year incarceration for "Cold War crimes.")
Disclosures by the present administration and the marble-lined, squirming bag of appetites, avarice and thinly veiled desires that presently occupies the District's center (read: Congress) are so opaque and so deeply impregnated with masses of codewords, obfuscation and newspeak-approved turns of phrase as to be nearly meaningless to all but the most twisted and tangled intellects. Unfortunately, Llewellyn Thompson long ago deigned to submit to the cold embrace of oblivion and, worse, finem respice is given to understand that Condoleezza Rice is presently working to convince Stanford University students (and herself) that she actually knows something useful about political science now that the Soviet Union is no more. This is a pity, in that it requires us to do our own cryptanalysis work.
The assertion that "We're the ones who have been taking the tough votes," seems to be an ideal place to begin our post-republic contextual analysis.
Even with only this small sample from which to judge, astute finem respice readers will immediately recognize a brand of sublimely cultivated prose, tightly ordered lyric composition and captivatingly assembled meter that one could only find among the verbal excreta of such orators as were plucked from the very pinnacle of legislative aristocracy. Further, even among this rarefied population, it is easy to see that a passage of this gravity could only originate with William "Bill" J. Pascrell Jr., that most distinguished gentleman charged with securing the interests of New Jersey's eighth congressional district from the United States House of Representatives.
Lest finem respice readers possessed primarily of shirts with colder collar tones, and therefore lacking sufficient leisure time to devote to the intense study of congressional biography minutiae, forget, 73 year old William J. Pascrell Jr. (the "Junior" suffix is an honorary title) is more commonly known for some of the more scintillatingly contrived acronyms among sponsored legislation, including the "Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing" Act (hereinafter the "BOSS ACT" though probably more properly the "BOSS ACT Act") and the "Concussion Treatment and Care Tools" Act (hereinafter the "ConTACT Act").
Those cynical finem respice readers prone to wonder what a 73 year old legislator is doing regulating TicketMaster (not to mention serving on the House Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response) would do well to note not only his entirely congruent role as a member of the House Subcommittee on Health, but also that his noble visage could not properly be emblazoned among the top thirty serving Representatives ranked by age (he comes in 32nd). (Whether this is a vindication of Pascrell or an indictment of the House is left as an exercise for the reader). And as for the rumors that the Congressman is possessed of "extremely malodorous armpit stains..."2 first, it is not at all clear that a modern (and North American) regard for personal hygiene has ever been a prerequisite for election to the United States House of Representatives, and second, we have been reliably informed by several biographical subjects of Wikipedia that Wikipedia is often subject to deliberate vandalism and should be ignored whenever found to contain oddly idiosyncratic critiques of its biographical subjects.
Pascrell's historic "Tough Votes" speech (difficult as it is to imagine, Pascrell is reputed to compose on his own, that is without outside aid of any kind, all of his captivating public addresses) stands as a stinging rebuke directed towards an indifferent and (dare we say) somewhat narcissistic White House.
Recently, Pascrell and his selfless colleagues have, indeed, burned substantial fractions of their priceless political capital thrusting what could only be described as noticeably girthish legislation through their narrow seat margin.
Thus, when the Garden State Bard employs such august literary devices as "taking the tough votes," we are given to understand that the enactment of essential measures designed to secure the immortal glory of The Empire, precisely because they are maligned by an ignorant and politically naive population of thankless and self-serving citizens unable to appreciate the importance of compensating loyal adjuncts of the Emperor, carries with it the dearest political cost.
Surely, the outrage expressed so eloquently by Pascrell in these stanzas, and doubtless felt so universally by his many legislative colleagues, is warranted when the Emperor's heartless complacency deprives Pascrell of the sort of prophylactic protection from short-sighted, plebeian electoral outrage on which he visibly relied and to which, in the wake of such loyal service, he is so clearly entitled. What manner of Prefect should permit himself, without complaint, to be thrown so ignominiously to the pack of wild and diseased dogs that is the citizen mob? How is a loyal servant of the Emperor to be expected to endure the consequences of interface with an inflamed and erupting canker on the pert lips of his aroused constituency? Will the Emperor's Praetorian Guard not defend from insult the walls of this Prefect's hillside villa, carefully nestled (and dutifully compliant with all relevant homeowner's association standards for design and architecture) between the stately, rolling hills of the capital's outskirts? How can a loyal Prefect be expected to endure the ballot thuggery instigated via his support for legislation that, by some cruel twist of fate, just happens unpopular with the fickle and illiterate masses this week?
Indeed, one almost imagines the steadfast and unwavering loyalty to the Emperor exhibited by Pascrell and his fellow holders of high office- secure as it was against any public assault, be it emotional, mental, logical or intellectual- to be (gasp) worthless.
The horror. The horror.
Update: Crowdsourced Kremlinologist (and longtime finem respice reader) "MP" points out that the Garden State Bard's prose was plagiarized from... the child Emperor himself. It cannot but interest students of the Byzantine to learn that the phrase was uttered in the course of supporting the candidacy of one of the very Senators inspiring the bitter envy of the Prefects.
So nobody would have blamed Michael if he had said, you know, maybe I'll make my maiden race four years from now when things are looking a little bit better. But that's not what he did. He stepped up. And not only did he step up, but since he has been in Washington, there has not been a better champion on behalf of middle-class folks and on behalf of the dreams and aspirations that each of you carry for your children and your grandchildren than Michael Bennet. (Applause.) There has not been anybody who's been fighting harder for you and taking the tough votes.3
But beware, oh Prefects! For you may find regret where you expected glee if your wishes for Imperial attention should come to pass. The blessing of the Imperator's touch did little for the hopeful Coakley. Even as she stood on the dais, proudly elevated above the tailors busily fitting her for the very senatorial robes she expected to wear that same evening, the child Emperor's toxic touch seemed almost to wither the stout in her public edifice as she crumbled no slower than if she were founded on loose sand. And, of course, it would be impolitic to add insult to injury with names like Corzine, or Deeds, no?
And what of Senator Michael Bennet (whose name no member of the media appears even able to spell and who seems unable to supplant Senator Bob Bennett's first place listing in any Google search of near relevance)? He finds himself facing a primary challenger in Andrew Romanoff (despite attempts by the Emperor's loyal advisers to dissuade Romanoff from the selfish pursuit of high office)4 even while trailing his opposing party opponents 48%-39% and 47%-40% respectively.5
Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. But whom the gods would annihilate utterly, with fortune and station first they crown.
- 1. Paul Kane, "House Democrats Hit Boiling Point Over Perceived Lack of White House Support," The Washington Post (July 15, 2010).
- 2. William J. Pascrell, Jr. Wikipedia entry.
- 3. The Office of the White House Press Secretary, "Remarks by The President at A Reception for Senator Bennet," The White House (February 19, 2010).
- 4. J. Taylor Rushing, "Sen. Bennet: I Knew White House Urged Romanoff Not to Run," The Hill (June 11, 2010).
- 5. "Colorado Senate: GOP Hopefuls Remain Slightly Ahead," Rassmussen Reports (July 13, 2010).