Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Romanovs, Stupid Stupid Romanovs
I'm no professional historian, but I've stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, and if I was to think of past historical figures that Bush and Cheney ultimately remind me of, it isn't the easy, intellectually shallow, and easy to discredit Hitler. Bush is pretty damn bad, especially by American historical standards, but Hitler was in a class all his own, with Stalin, Mao some distance behind, and a whole host of murderous thugs like Tamerlane somewhere in the rear view mirror.(Links added.) I haven't seen the opulent Nicholas and Alexandra in a long time, and much of what I remember about it is the creepy performance of the best of the Doctor Whos as Rasputin—but maybe it's time to put it on the Netflix list and see if it looks more disturbingly familiar than it used to. I know that the first time I saw it was back in 90s, during a considerably...saner presidency.
No, Bush and Cheney remind me of the last of the Romanovs.
Bush has the shallow, unintellectual stubbornness of Nicholas II. He distrusts and even mocks people who are intellectually on a higher plane or actually make an effort to be intellectually curious. Like Nicolas II, he believes he has been ordained by God to be "the Decider" and therefore any decision is God's decision.
Cheney, on the other hand, has the narrow-minded haughtiness of the Empress Alexandra, along with the refusal to tolerate those who don't bow down to his small-focused ideals of good and evil -- and inability to consider any decision or statement he makes is not correct by that fact alone.
And if you look at the Richard Perles, Paul Wolfowitz's, Laurie Myolries, and every blowhard at FoxNews, you have no shortage of Rasputins.
I can't help but be reminded also of another epic film set (in part) at the end of the Romanov era, and some lines that my friend jules is fond of quoting. Yevgraf, Yuri Zhivago's coldly dedicated Bolshevik brother, recalls how he enlisted during the patriotic fervor at the outbreak of "The War to End All Wars"—though he had, um, a farther goal in mind than defeat of the Kaiser:
In bourgeois terms, it was a war between the Allies and Germany. In Bolshevik terms, it was a war between the Allied and German upper classes—and which of them won was of total indifference. My task was to organize defeat, so as to hasten the onset of revolution. I enlisted under the name of Petrov. The party looked to the peasant conscript soldiers—many of whom were wearing their first real pair of boots. When the boots had worn out, they'd be ready to listen. When the time came, I was able to take three whole battalions out of the front lines with me—the best day's work I ever did. But for now, there was nothing to be done. There were too many volunteers. Most of it was mere hysteria.The times are different, the war is different, and I fervently hope that the wreckage the Bush Administration leaves behind proves kinder and gentler than the wreckage that helped create the Soviet Union—but I swear, as I watch support for the Iraq debacle falling and Bush's poll numbers dropping, that's what keeps coming to mind:
The boots are wearing out.
In other news, I'd like to thank WWOZ in New Orleans for allowing John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" to be the first thing I heard upon waking up and getting online this morning. My GOD, what an astounding, exuberant, magnificent piece of music. It makes you laugh, cry, and dance all at once—even when you're fresh out of bed and haven't had your coffee yet. Great, great, great way to start the day, lemma tell ya.
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