Thursday, February 20, 2020

"I Know You Are, But What Am I?"

Not the defense he thinks it is.  Fairness is not letting everyone go because some people get caught by law enforcement and some don't.  More particularly, fairness is not letting everyone go because some people are guilty and some people aren't.  That's why we have a legal system.

I've been watching first "Elizabeth," the Cate Blanchett film which is one of my favorites (not for historical accuracy but because of the wonderful wheels-within-wheels nature of the narrative), and the "sequel" to that film, and then the Showtime (on Netflix) "prequel" about Henry VIII written by the same writer as the films (well, at least the second one).  I understand Henry pretty much cemented "Dieu et mon droit" into the English monarchy (the sentiment if not the motto), and in the Showtime version of history, he's pretty much a loose cannon rolling across the deck of the ship of state, firing off as it pleases him (and for the guy to go through six wives, he probably was as capricious and self-centered and emotionally stunted as the portrayal in question).  But I'm struck by how much this version of Henry, which predates Trump's presidency by almost 15 years, resembles Trump Unbound.

It's rather frightening, actually.  Henry can have people killed at a word, and too many in his circle (including Anne, though I haven't gotten that far in the series yet) were beheaded at his accusation of treason.  There was a Parliament, but not really a legal process.  Trump wishes it were that way, and to some degree he's making it so.

England righted itself over time (although Elizabeth gave way eventually to Charles, who was dethroned and beheaded, and helped provoke a civil war) and eventually laws took over for monarchs (Henry VIII insists he is, and apparently he was, answerable only to God.  Trump doesn't even think God has anything to say about it.).  But America started as a constitutional republic.  More and more I think we have nowhere to go but down.  I still don't think we will, but I'm not always as sure of that as I could be.

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