Last Wednesday morning, in honor of Independence Day, NPR broadcast their annual on-air reading of the Declaration of Independence. While drinking my coffee and between other early morning holiday routines, I was only vaguely aware of it in the background of my apartment. However, when I happened to step back into my room just as the readers were launching into the list of the "repeated injuries and usurpations" of King George I was struck by the sensation that, language aside, if one were to draw up a list of grievances towards the George that presently heads this country, it might not stray so far from "facts submitted" two hundred and thirty one years ago. I'd don't remember exactly which "repeated injury" it was that led me to draw the comparison between King George and President George -- I'm certainly not the first to do so, mind you, and furthermore, as Hendrick Hertzberg points out "petted prince" may be more appropriate than "King" -- but possibly it was this:
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments
Or perhaps I was only more acutely aware of the similarities because I'd caught the bit about "protecting them, by a mock trial" — right after the news broke that Bush had commuted Scooter Libby's sentence. Hmm.
Obviously, none of these comparisons fit with near total accuracy (notwithstanding the deprivation of "trial by jury"). What did ring familiar, however, was the sense of frustration and anger that eventually lead to the Declaration; it did not seem all that far off from the current, and increasing recognition that we are once again being governed by a man (and an executive branch) that considers itself above the law and outside a "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind." Scooter Libby's commutation merely brings this cavalier quality into greater relief. There is a persistent imperiousness on display in the White House (or what remains of it) that seems less a "farce in five acts" than a warning that the year and a half we have left of this presidency will not be remotely lame. Meaning that perhaps sooner than later, the country will have to ask itself if its "patient sufferance" has reached its limit, and if so, how it will begin to "provide new Guards for their future security."
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