Sunday, May 25, 2014

A fascinating thought experiment

Take any given country's Head of State and plunk him in a section of his nation where people are hostile toward him. Take away all Praetorians and policemen and protectors. Will the Head of State be killed?

That's the question asked by this blogger, previously unknown to me. His view: In most places -- France, Canada, the UK, Argentina -- an unprotected Head of State would probably survive, although he or she might have to endure an unpleasant harangue.
The UK: No. Cameron would have a very rough time and plenty of verbal haranguing, but physical violence would be unlikely.

Canada: Ditto. Many people hate Harper, but they're unlikely to get medieval on the guy.

France: No. More likely they'd end up inviting Hollande to dinner and launching into deep debate in order to convince him of the error of his ways, with consensus over at least a couple of items reached over the calvados and cheese.
The above-linked blogger thinks that Obama, sans the Secret Service, probably wouldn't live very long in a "red" part of the U.S.

My take: A Republican president would survive a trip to both the reddest and bluest regions of America, while a Democratic president  -- any Democratic president -- would not.

If an unguarded Dubya had strolled through (say) a snootily liberal sector of San Francisco in 2007, I'm pretty sure that he would have had to endure nothing worse than a barrage of insults and a display of middle digits. But if someone were to place a Janissary-free Obama in a medium-sized town in Alabama, his lifespan could be measured in minutes. No: Seconds.

That sad fact has nothing to do with Obama's race and little to do with his actual policies, which are farther to the right than most right-wingers will admit. What would seal the man's fate is the simple fact that he is a Democratic president. C'est tout. Although my readers may argue that he is not a true Dem in spirit, in terms of official party registration, he undeniably has a big blue (D) next to his name.

And so he would be a marked man. Our increasingly hysterical right-wing media organs exist to turn normal conservatives into crazy conservatives -- and every year, the craziness seems to get even crazier.

Case in point. Fox Newsers are saying that homosexuality caused Elliot Roger to go on a shooting spree. That theory may be the nuttiest thing anyone has ever said about any crime in all of human history. What more could Roger have said or done to establish that he was a frustrated heterosexual?

Conservatives get a daily diet of this inflammatory nonsense. I wouldn't bet on Obama's survival in any part of the country where Fox News is considered real news.

I wonder if because it ends with a ZI it has become easier for some to latch onto it as a catch phrase to be uttered every other breath.
This is one of those things where the virulent pathogen might be limited to those older generation wackos who are mostly humored and not emulated by their inheritors. There may be a part of the US that is so racist and right wing that Obama really wouldn't last long due to racial ancestry and alleged "liberal" credentials. For now I'm convinced that most people of the "Obama's Islam/atheist/homo agenda" sort are on their way out and don't really represent their children and grandchildren.
If Backtrack Obama were beamed down where I could catch his eye I'd say "Mr. President, Dr. Martin Luther King would be deeply, deeply ashamed of you" and leave it at that.
Cameron and Harper are heads of government, the Queen is head of state.
When the Lakers won their last championship, I wondered aloud who all the car overturners voted for in the 2008 presidential election.

I concluded that probably well over 90% of the car over turners, if they voted, voted for Barack Obama and not for John McCain or Hillary Clinton in the primaries.
This ignores history. Olaf Palme, the PM of Sweden was shot while walking alone in his capitol city. In Sweeden. If you are a head of state (or its political leader) you are at risk, even in Sweden. Reagan was shot while going to the Hilton. Ford was shot at twice. No Dem President has been shot at since Kennedy, although take away the secret service and that would change in a hurry.
dcblogger: You are obviously right in that EVERY head of state would invite some political risk if he were to walk around unprotected.

But what we're talking about here is a RANGE of probabilities -- an assessment of likelihoods. I think the original blogger was correct in his view of what would occur in (for example) France.


There's a photo going around of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad riding the bus unprotected. Remarkable.

Meanwhile, France's former leader Jacques Chirac is still guarded by some very intimidating gentlemen. The arrangement is a bit awkward, since he lives directly above France's most famous artists' suppliers, the Sennelier shop. So now anyone who wants to buy paint where Degas and Gauguin bought paint must pass under the gaze of a couple of armed guards.

As for the Dem vs. Republican "shooting score": Hinckley did not have a political motive. In my opinion, a leftie fired at a conservative president on only two occasions: When Leon Czolgosz killed McKinley, and when Sarah Jane Moore took a shot at Ford.

You already know what I think about the JFK assassination.
While not heads of State, how about this;

An editorial ran a couple of years ago saying proof that terrorists were not operating in the U.S. was - Donald Rumsfeld nervously standing on the street corner alone with his briefcase, waiting for a cab every day.
Mayor Bloomberg was famous for riding the subway alone in NYC.
Thatcher would not have survived. Churchill probably wouldn't. All the other recent British PMs would have done.

OK I'm talking about PMs rather than heads of state.
Olaf Palme was assassinated by arms traders. And didn't some lunatic machine-gun the white house while Clinton was in office. And didn't someone else try and fly a Cessna into the White House back then too?

The only British Prime Minister ever to be murdered in office was Spencer Perceval, during the War of 1812.
I suspect the 'Rodgers was a closeted homosexual' trope stems from his ongoing chronicle of the status of his friendship with several male acquaintances, most notably James Ellis. And, at first, I also wondered what the subtext was for this clearly obsessive interest. Eventually, though, it becomes clear Rodgers wasn't interested in Ellis romantically but for the validation he offered (or withheld). I mean, it's clear the guy had plenty of unresolved issues, sexually, and he very well may have been struggling with concerns about his orientation. He wouldn't have been the first gay male to try and drown same-sex desires with an obsessive (albeit spectacularly unsuccessful) pursuit of female flesh; he also clearly held some strong beliefs about what 'real' men were like and did, and he clearly didn't measure up. Nevertheless, it's absurd to label him a homosexual -- nearly as absurd, in fact, as thinking a killer's sexuality was even relevant.
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