On treating a President like Royalty

George Bush keeps forgetting that he only gets to live for a little while in the White House, and that he’s not the permanent occupant.  There’s an excellent essay about our schizophrenic behavior towards our President because we keep forgetting that he’s not Royalty, as exposed by the interchange between George Bush and Jim Webb.

My favorite quotes were:

In America, they taught me, talent and hard work were all; allegiance was automatically owed to no one; respect had to be earned.  In America, the president worked for us, and knew it, and the house we allowed him to live in for a time—that great white outie of the Republic—was known as The People’s House.

In general, the Brits act as though the government is their business and they have every right to meddle in it.  Americans, by and large, display no such self-assurance.  To the contrary, we seem to believe, deep in our hearts, that the business of government is beyond our provenance.  What accounts for the difference?  My wife, whose family hails in part from England, has a theory: unlike us, the Brits don’t confuse their royalty with their civil servants, because they have both, clearly labeled.

I sure hope we can remember that when it comes to election day.

Democracy and deference, By Mark Slouka Harpers June 2008