Saturday, April 04, 2009

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 latter's 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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