Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown | Opinion | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Opinion

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown



In the award-winning 2008 HBO miniseries, John Adams, there's a scene that's startlingly apropos today. The year is 1785. Adams has just been appointed America's first ambassador to England. The fledgling diplomat, superbly played Paul Giamatti, is ushered into the presence of an imperious George III, portrayed by a pitch-perfect Tom Hollander.

After the royal audience, as Adams is exiting the cavernous chamber, the king volunteers: "I pray, Mr. Adams, that the United States does not suffer unduly for its want of a monarchy." Replies the American: "We will strive to answer your prayers, Your Majesty."

Now, imagine if Donald Trump, fresh off the campaign trail, were in Adams' buckled shoes—and introduced to the king.

"Did you say 'monarchy?'" Trump inquires. "You know, that has a nice ring to it. That's a lifetime gig, right?"

George III says nothing, He's assessing this strange American standing before him.

"By the way," Trump says, "where did you get that blue sash? It looks so 'king-like,'" he adds, glancing down at his own red power tie.

The audience ends.

Later, back at the embassy, Trump looks in a gilded mirror in the hallway. "Yes," he smiles, "the sash will work."

Clearly, the president has all the attributes of a monarch ... except dignity. All of his billions—if they indeed exist—can't buy class. Just an abundance of arrogance and braggadocio.

When Trump was a candidate in 2016, Garrison Keillor of "Prairie Home Companion" renown, described him to a T, calling him "the most famous ducktail in America ... the hairdo of wayward youth of a bygone era."

Trump, he wrote, is "the class hood, the bully and braggart, the guy revving his pink Chevy to make the pipes rumble ... This is the C-minus guy who sat behind you in history and poked you with his pencil and smirked when you asked him to stop."

His followers, now his base, "love what the kids loved about Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, the fact that he horrifies the powers-that-be, and when you are pro-duck you are giving the finger to the Congress, the press, clergy, lawyers, teachers, cake-eaters and big muckety-mucks, VIPs, all those people who think they're better than you."

"The bully and braggart [Americans] see today is the same man New Yorkers have been observing for 40 years. A man who is obsessed with marble walls and gold-plated door knobs, who has all the sensibility of a giant sea tortoise."

Concludes Keillor: "The nation that elects this man president is not a civilized society. The gentleman is not airing out his fingernail polish, he is not showing off his wedding ring; he is making an obscene gesture."

That's what the ducktail in the White House is doing now: giving the finger to a Congress, a co-equal branch of government as Trump would have known had he not sneaked out to smoke during civics class. He's saying, "The People's House" is his, not yours and mine ... so go fuck yourself.

In the unlikely event of impeachment, the president threatens to "go to the Supreme Court." Lots of luck, ducktail. It's the consensus of most legal experts—bolstered by SCOTUS rulings themselves—that impeachment is none of the court's business. In Impeachment: A Handbook, the late constitutional scholar Charles L. Black Jr. ridicules the idea that the court could intervene. On the likelihood of justices overturning an impeachment and conviction, Black wrote: "I don't think I possess the resources of rhetoric adequate to characterize the absurdity of that position."

Besides, monarchs don't always win: Take Charles I of England. He, too, gave the finger to "The People's House" (Parliament) and after a nasty civil war, lost his head. And who could possibly forget Louis XVI of France, and his deadly date with the guillotine.

Not that I wish ducktail any harm—lest the Secret Service come a knocking on my door. I'm saying Trump is playing a risky game of chicken with the House—my house. And we have a few more horsepower under the hood than his pink Chevy with pipes.

Despite ducktail's daydreams to the contrary, we'll have no coronation any time soon. The crown, orb and scepter—and blue sash—will gather dust in a storage closet.

And upstairs, in the White House residence, Trump will have a Big Mac and lay his ducktail on a down pillow tonight. Although he's obviously not a Shakespeare fan, he might consider this line from Henry IV, Part II: "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."

Lance S. Gudmundsen, a long-time Utah journalist, currently is a proofreader at City Weekly. He lives in Murray with his rescue cat, "Nefertiti."


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