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The Imperial Presidency
European royals make do with a less lavish lifestyle than the supposed citizen-executive of a so-called republic.


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Mark Steyn

Rick Perry, governor of Texas, has only been in the presidential race for 20 minutes, but he’s already delivered one of the best lines in the campaign:

“I’ll work every day to try to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can.”

This will be grand news to Schylar Capo, eleven years old, of Virginia, who made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days, and for her pains, was visited by a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter (with accompanying state troopers) who charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species and issued her a $535 fine. If the federal child-abuser has that much time on his hands, he should have charged the cat, who was illegally transporting the protected species from his gullet to his intestine.

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So eleven-year-old Schylar and other middle-schoolers targeted by the micro-regulatory superstate might well appreciate Governor Perry’s pledge. But you never know, it might just catch on with the broader population, too.

Bill Clinton thought otherwise. “I got tickled by watching Governor Perry,” said the former president. “And he’s saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to Washington to make sure that the federal government stays as far away from you as possible — while I ride on Air Force One and that Marine One helicopter and go to Camp David and travel around the world and have a good time.’ I mean, this is crazy.”

This is the best argument the supposedly smartest operator in the Democratic party can muster? If Bill Clinton wants to make the increasingly and revoltingly unrepublican lifestyle of the American president a campaign issue, Governor Perry should call his bluff. If I understand correctly the justification advanced by spokesgropers for the Transport Security Administration, the reason they poke around the genitalia of three-year-old girls and make wheelchair-bound nonagenarians in the final stages of multiple sclerosis remove their diapers in public is that by doing so they have made commercial air travel the most secure environment in the United States. In that case, why can’t the president fly commercial?

You’d be surprised how many heads of state do. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands flies long haul on KLM. Don’t worry, she’s not in coach all night squeezed next to the mom with the crying baby and the party of English soccer hooligans baying moronic victory chants all night. She rides up front and has so many aides that sometimes she’ll book the entire first class cabin! By contrast, the president of the United States took his personal 747 (a transatlantic aircraft designed to hold 500 people that costs a fifth of a million dollars per hour to run) to go from Washington to a Democratic party retreat in Williamsburg, Va., 150 miles away.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark flies commercial, too. For local trips she has a small Challenger jet. When she’s not zipping around in it, they use it for fishery enforcement off Greenland. Does that detail alone suggest that a thousand-year dynasty dating back to King Gorm the Sleepy (regnant 936–958) travels in rather less luxury than the supposed citizen-executive of a so-called republic of limited government? Undoubtedly King Gorm the Sleepy would have slept a lot better on Air Force One, yet the Danish royal family seems to get by.

Symbols are important. In other circumstances, the Obamas’ vacation on Martha’s Vineyard might not be terribly relevant. But this is a president who blames his dead-parrot economy on “bad luck” — specifically, the Arab Spring and the Japanese tsunami: As Harry S. Truman would have said, the buck stops at that big hole in the ground that’s just opened up over in Japan. Let us take these whiny excuses at face value and accept for the sake of argument that Obama’s Recovery Summer would now be going gangbusters had not the Libyan rebels seized Benghazi and sent the economy into a tailspin. Did no one in the smartest administration in history think this might be the time for the president to share in some of the “bad luck” and forgo an ostentatious vacation in the exclusive playground of the rich? When you’re the presiding genius of the Brokest Nation in History, enjoying the lifestyle of the super-rich while allegedly in “public service” sends a strikingly Latin American message. Underlining the point, the president then decided to pass among his suffering people by touring small town Minnesota in an armored Canadian bus accompanied by a 40-car motorcade. In some of these one-stoplight burgs, the president’s escort had more vehicles than the municipality he was graciously blessing with his presence.



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