Rock-Star Pols and Deterring Regular Folks from Government
Mark makes an interesting point in the weekend Steyn:
The real bubble is a consequence of big government. The more the citizenry expect from the state, the more our political class will depend on ever more swollen Gulf Emir–sized retinues of staffers hovering at the elbow to steer you from one corner of the fishbowl to another 24/7. “Why are politicians so weird?” a reader asked me after the Sanford press conference. But the majority of people willing to live like this will, almost by definition, be deeply weird. So big government more or less guarantees rule by creeps and misfits. It’s just a question of how well they disguise it. Writing about Michael Jackson a few years ago, I suggested that today’s A-list celebs were the equivalent of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria or the loopier Ottoman sultans, the ones it wasn’t safe to leave alone with sharp implements. But, as Christopher Hitchens says, politics is showbusiness for ugly people. And a celebrified political culture will inevitably throw up its share of tatty karaoke versions of Britney and Jacko.
The retinues to which Steyn refers are the staffs that, for example, must accompany President Obama on a jaunt out of the White House for ice cream and, for another example, that Governor Mark Sanford sought to escape with his liaisons. With the former example, I’m beginning to think that may be part of the political point. As Steyn notes, it’s laughable to think the wave of Obama’s entourage permits him to truly intermingle with “regular folk,” but it does create a scene — not unlike a rock-star sighting. Although not beneficial to the public that elected him, such scenes are certainly worth the cost to a politician who is so dependent on his image.