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King Of The Mountain

1 February 2010

So, I know I’m a week late on this, but did you all watch the state of the union address?  The White House must do its research, because I have to admit, Obama said damn near everything I was thinking (and had in fact spoken at length about just days before while lunching with my folks).  There’s plenty of blame to go around, but my general view is that the Republicans are being the dicks they always are (shame on them), and the Dems have been too stupid to recognize that, accept it, and work around it to actually get something done (shame on them).  I was entertained by how different the comments and angles were as I flipped back and forth between Fox and MSNBC.  Both ridiculous in their own way.  The address itself was good I thought.  It struck me as relatively candid.  The official Republican response was comically empty.  It was delivered with absolutely no charisma, and it said nothing whatsoever.  The only thing I heard of any substance was a rehashing of Obama’s own points as if they were somehow fresh counterpoints.  It was embarrassing.

I was particularly caught by the whole bit about the failure of virtually everyone in Washington to put the good of the people ahead of their career self-preservation and political posturing.  It sums up so much of what’s been wrong (and getting worse) in American government the last few decades.  And it’s not just Republicans.  OK, it’s mostly Republicans.

As I recall, the founding fathers were not career politicians.  They were business men who worked in government out of duty and necessity.  It was a burden, not a reward.  And when the work was done, they wanted to get back to being business men.  I’m reminded of that scene in Gladiator where the emperor Marcus Aurelius offers to make Maximus his successor.  Maximus refuses, and the emperor says, “that is why it must be you.”  In today’s world, every one of those fuckers in Washington gets their position and spends the rest of their career doing what they have to to hold on to it.  It doesn’t matter what’s best for the people and nation that they were hired to serve.  Because it all takes a back seat to their own ambitions.  It’s sickening.

This is not supposed to be “king of the mountain.”  It’s not supposed to be that once you get into power, you just use that power to help yourself.  Getting into office isn’t supposed to be like winning the lottery.  It’s not a reward.  It’s a job.  You were sent there to do a job.  You were sent there to represent me.  I didn’t vote for you and give you that power because I felt like you’re such a swell guy that you deserved to be rich and powerful at my expense.  No, I sent you there to do a job.  If you are unable or unwilling, then step down and make room for someone with the integrity and sense of duty to try to help their country instead of themselves.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

— Greek proverb

UPDATE:  Just after I posted this blog last night, the Colbert Report had something poignant to add — hilariously illustrating the sad fact that many politicians will resist a thing not because they think it’s a bad idea or because it won’t benefit the people… but simply because they don’t want the other side to get the credit or look good.  It’s incomprehensible to me.  What a disservice to those poor people they dupe into following them.  Because those poor souls all think you’re on their side and working for their best interest.  But you’re not, you’re working for yours.

NOTE: As of 2023, this updated link should take you to “The Word” segment from the February 1st, 2010 episode (#669) of “The Colbert Report” I originally had embedded here.

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2 Comments to “King Of The Mountain”

  1. Thats an interesting quote from Gladiator. Seen that movie several times and missed that line.

  2. Yeah, it’s near the beginning…

    Marcus Aurelius: Won’t you accept this great honor that I have offered you?
    Maximus: With all my heart, no.
    Marcus Aurelius: Maximus, that is why it must be you.

    To me, it perfectly illustrates that for a great leader, power is not a reward. It’s a terrible responsibility.

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