Here’s a mainstream American comedian who has not lost touch with our country’s small-R republican roots. His mockery of the American fascination with the upcoming royal wedding is well-aimed, and I think the original Boston Tea Partiers would have loved his comments. I would amend, though, his remark about us Americans’ not having anything like this cult surrounding people who aren’t really “special”: We do, and we call such people “celebrities.” Indeed, I think the question is open for debate which system is worse: the British monarchy, which imposes mildly (and not-so-mildly) ridiculous figures on the public attention through a superannuated constitutional arrangement, or the U.S. media star system, which does so ostensibly through the Nielsen consent of the governed. In other words, they have Prince Charles and Camilla, we have Donald Trump and Snooki.
Hat tip to Lawrence O’Donnell for making me aware of Seinfeld’s comments; though I feel constrained to point out that I do not sympathize with O’Donnell’s rather less light-hearted — okay, let’s be frank: angry and grievance-mongering — tone. Considering my love of high-church Anglicanism, it’s rather surprising to me how resistant I am to Anglophilia generally; also, I do have a pronounced tendency to romanticize everything Irish. And yet, contra Mr. O’Donnell, I think it’s possible to avoid becoming an Anglophile without becoming an Anglophobe. Yes, all the attention paid to the British royal wedding is utterly absurd; but it was Seinfeld who got the tone right.