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writing for godot

The Infant President's Two Regents

Written by Carl Peterson   
Monday, 03 April 2017 04:08

The Infant President's Two Regents


The infant president had fallen asleep at last, in his crib, his hand clutching a phone, like a pacifier, near his face.  His domestic regent lingered above him in the silence, and wondered, not for the first time, how it had never been remarked in the press how beautiful this infant really was.  The hair, how was it that everyone had got the hair wrong?  It was not the ridiculous thing that everyone made it out to be, least of all the color.  Stupid people called it "orange," and likened it to the color of an orangutan.  In truth, it was not like the color of anything else in the world.  It existed nowhere in the world, except in this boy's hair.  It had been meant to be gold, of course, like many of the infant president's toys, but by the fortuitous alchemy in an unsung hairstylist's experiment, it had come out to be...what?  Sublime, unique, ineffable, holy, or as the baby boy often described things, "incredible."  The color drew the regent into it, and he was comforted, though he knew that any day his plans could come tumbling in on him, and he would be swept away and then under by the avalanche... The infant was beautiful, why was this not widely reported?  His crown, more than gold, his cheeks plump, innocent and smooth, his lips pursed, or pouting, a cherub blowing a trumpet, hailing the advent of a new world...

The domestic regent wanted to get the phone away from the infant president.  But he remembered the night weeks before, when he in haste had grabbed at the phone, the infant awakened, and, frightened by the domestic regent's beard, and the colored spots on his face, had squalled, and cried, blubbering until the domestic regent placed the phone back into his hands, and begged him to tweet again.  Now, the domestic regent reached down and gently tugged the phone from the boy's grasp.  Of course, there was another hidden nearby somewhere, and when the president awoke at three or four in the morning he would find it, and do what he does, but nevertheless the domestic regent would do what he could to help this boy, and in helping the boy, midwife the new world.

The domestic regent believed that it was a great fortune for the world, perhaps a miracle, that this infant had been elected president.  But that was not the whole miracle.  Being an infant, the president's mind was a Lockean blank slate--he knew nothing, about anything--his unused tablet was there to be inscribed.

When, during the campaign, time came for the infant candidate to consider embracing his future domestic regent, they met high in the golden tower, lunch in the infant's office, where from across the desk both intuited that they needed something inseparably in possession of the other, and both understood that they were needed by the other.  Working quickly and silently, the infant candidate's tall, blonde, bare-legged nanny spooned strained green beans from where it had slid down to the candidate's chin, and firmly inserted the spoon back into her charge's half-opened, dumbstruck mouth.  The boy's blue eyes tumbled in their sockets; the future domestic regent thought he saw visceral hatred of strained green beans play across the infant candidate's face, but in a display of mixed emotion startling in one so young, there, on the cherub's beautiful, plump, green-stained face, simultaneously with his hatred of liquefied beans, blazed the infant's pathetic consciousness of the absurdity of his own circumstances:  Adults across the country doted on his every word, and somehow found comfort and a wisdom there; he possessed wealth, fame and a degree of power, yet, he was an infant, spoon-feeding on the substance he hated above all things.

A heartbeat following the sophisticated facial interplay of infantility and world-weariness, an epiphany illuminated the future domestic regent's brain: It had occurred to him before, but now he knew it; he and this baby together could rule the world.

The infant had somehow placed himself in a position to grasp the greatest personal power on earth--but knew nothing, and did not have political opinions, while he crudely yet brilliantly espoused the ones he was given.  The infant had no political opinions, not only because he was infantile, and incuriosity about adult matters had kept his slate clean, but because in his previous life political opinions could only have interfered with his life's work.  The future domestic regent knew things, had opinions, many of those, an abundance, you could say, of political opinions, more than enough to supply the infant candidate with things to say at his campaign appearances, and to help him portray that he held strong beliefs that compelled him to want to correct the injustices that held down regular people.

With a warmed, moistened, moderately chocolate-scented cotton towel, the future president's nanny wiped the green from the young candidate's cheeks in three swift strokes, smiled at the infant, then at the future domestic regent, and wordlessly departed.

If they won, the infant could bring his future domestic regent with him to power, who would continue to supply the opinions and ideas that the infant would repeat when he needed to pretend that he had his own opinions and ideas, but more important for both of them, the domestic regent could tell the infant president what the presidential policies would be.  The infant president wanted nothing to do with that end of the business, it was boring and frightening, though of course he never let on to anyone that he was frightened by it.

When, years before the campaign, the infant had approached his future domestic regent for possible ideas he might have about getting the infant seriously into presidential politics, the future domestic regent told him that his only way in was through the Republican party, and the only way through the Republican party was to establish a bold presence on the national political scene while appealing to the Republican grass roots.  If the grass roots accepted him, he could short-circuit the alleged gatekeepers, the so-called party establishment, that was dying anyway.  The future domestic regent told the infant that, given the Republican proclivities at that time, he might begin by publicly criticizing the sitting Democratic president.  From there, the infant and his new counselor/future domestic regent, developed the idea of placing the infant to the forefront of the so-called "birther" movement, which embodied a radical rejection of the president's provenance, authenticity, and legitimacy,.  Since the Republican grassroots saw much of what was happening to themselves as alien and frightening, leading the movement that located the alien and frightening in one place--the Democratic president--was a masterstroke.  It was a simple explanation, and it much.  It explained everything you needed to know about the sitting president, and by extension, what was wrong with the country.  Yes, it was a masterstroke explanation.  It could fit on a poster, or in a sound bite.  And it got right to the heart of everything.  The problem was the Democratic president, he was not American.  Hell, once they proved he wasn't born in the United States, no one knew where he was from.

Yes, the infant's unused tablet was there to be inscribed, and although the boy was the genius and he, the domestic regent, only the brains behind the operation, inscribing that tablet was not always as easy as the domestic regent once thought it would be.  For one thing, there was the foreign regent.

Part of the domestic regent's partnership agreement with the young president was that the domestic regent would remain in the background, in the shadows, if necessary.  So, although on inauguration day the domestic regent acquired two new titles, Chief Strategist; and Senior Counselor to the President, he remained, with little effort on his part, outside the spotlight.  The infant president, in so many ways unlike any previous American president, and therefore fascinating for his novelty, drew every ray of attention to himself, every day, beginning before sunrise, and if the moon was full, ending long after the moon was high overhead.  The domestic regent didn't mind at first; in fact it was the way he wanted it, at first, to be the mastermind in the background, wielding great power, while the Wizard of Oz out front impressed the masses.  One of his heroes was Dick Cheney, who with Don Rumsfeld had commandeered many of the presidential powers in the Gerald Ford administration.  Cheney and Rumsfeld had been so deft that Ford was not even aware of it, till later.  Then, decades after that, Cheney selected himself to be the Republican vice-presidential nominee, and then, on the strength of one vote from the judicial branch--Anthony Kennedy's--George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were elected to the highest two offices in the land.  Anthony Kennedy knew that he had just given the election to the Republicans, but did not know that simultaneously with his ascension to the vice-presidency, Dick Cheney had privately selected himself (in a ceremony attended only by Cheney and his wife) to be the Other president.  It was the kind of thing that the domestic regent loved.  Power!  Intrigue!  Silliness!  George W. Bush had not quite the pristine slate of the infant president: he had a few political opinions, sort of, but Cheney's skill as a political operator, swinging like a monkey among the levers of presidential power, made it seem that George W. Bush had no opinions, or, rather, that he happened to have exactly the same opinions that Cheney had, that is, until the second administration, when Laura Bush broke the bad news to George.

The domestic regent moved away from the president's crib, dimmed a lamp in a nearby wall sconce--perhaps it was shining on the boy's face--and slowly shuffled to the window, his hands behind his back, holding the president's phone.  He moved, like a wounded man.  At the window he heard the wind whimpering and wondered if he were hearing things.  He squinted, then widened his eyes to try to see through the darkness if the trees were swaying, but he could only see the darkness, and somehow, he could see the darkness itself swirling as the wind whimpered.

The foreign regent too, was at his window.  He had finished his breakfast, and stood alone now, watching the morning wake up long after he had awakened.  The morning was still a little groggy, but the foreign regent was sharp, aware that he had already established an advantage over the day.

The first image to come into the foreign regent's mind that morning was the color of the infant president's hair.  He did not know why but this color made him uncomfortable.  And he had been greeted with this color first thing in the morning too much in the past year.  Nothing like this had happened to the foreign regent before.  He tasted something vaguely bad in a corner of his mouth, and made a face.  The infant's psychological profile had been off, way, way off.  They had done a good job, his investigators, and profile team, getting the details, the facts, of course they always did, but they had missed just one little thing... He was an infant!  Yes, infant!  My God, this child was sometimes preoccupied with his toes for a half hour at a time! But, that was done.  They had made a deal.  In fact, the infant had made a brilliant deal, an artful deal, the foreign regent thought, and smiled.  No one in America exactly knew it yet, but the art of this deal had placed someone other than an American in charge of US foreign policy--for the first time in history.  If the foreign regent's lips moved, then thousands of miles away the American president's lips moved, if the foreign regent lifted his arm, then the American president lifted his chubby little arm.  If the foreign regent said, "NATO is obsolete," or "You think we're so innocent?" the American president said...well, you know.  But still, it might have been better if he had known the degree to which the presidential candidate was also an infant.  A man, now dead, had once told the foreign regent that tactically he was sound, but his strategy was always short-sighted, and small, and his brilliant tactics often ended by serving a dead-end.  The foreign regent had long believed that it was not a bad idea to heed Dirty Harry's admonition that a man has got to know his limitations. Perhaps he was limited in his ability to think strategically.  Perhaps.  But the man who told him that was no longer alive, while he was the American president's foreign regent.  Anyway, strategy was for achieving specific goals that by definition were to be realized in the future, through the implementation of successful tactics.  Of necessity his short-term strategic goals were to be achieved in the very, very, near future, only very slightly after his immediate tactical goals had succeeded.  Years before, he had seen an order in the world that he did not approve, but without the power to move forthrightly to his preferred future world order, he must achieve his goal piece-meal, through the achievement of intermediate goals.  Now, he must be...what was that fashionable term?  A disruptor.  It did not matter exactly what was the result of his disruptions, these things were unpredictable anyway, which for the foreign regent was actually desirable.  Unpredictability was the enemy of order.  To institute a new order meant that first the old order must be destroyed, in this case not directly through force, but through unpredictability and the ensuing chaos.


He regretted choosing the tweets as a way for the infant president to communicate with him during emergencies.  There were difficulties with the coding of the infant's small vocabulary, and he had not expected that his president would perceive emergencies so often, or that he would so often create the very situations that triggered his perceptions of emergency.  But, the choice of the tweets was done.  It was ok.  He could live with that.  The Americans had to live with it too.

The foreign regent was aware again of a bad taste in a corner of his mouth, he felt for it with the tip of his tongue.  The president's domestic regent. Only in America could they make a useful idiot like this one.  He had likened himself to Lenin, apparently a Leninist of the right, who would overturn everything to make way for the new.  But what did he know about Lenin?  What in his life had prepared him to understand Lenin?  A few books?  At the conservative conference in America, the domestic regent had briefly come from the shadows to proclaim to the idiots in attendance something about deconstruction of the administrative state, this at a conservative conference!  Such a corny phrase!  Oh, the domestic regent is so smart!  See how clever he is:  Instead of destruction, he says deconstruction.  Instead of all government except police and military, he says administrative state.  He knows that most of those in attendance will not understand or even be curious about what he means by the phrase.  But some will understand, and of those, many will be cheered.  And I am sure this idiot is self-satisfied that he, the infant president's domestic regent, was able to go before the national media, proclaim that he wants to destroy the American government, and cause hardly a ripple of recognition except among those few who understood what he meant, and those few were the ones he was talking to.  And he could, with them, his fellow political adolescents, knowingly glance at each other:  See!  This order is rotten!  You tell them to their face that you are going to destroy them, and still they do not understand!

In the foreign regent's country, it had been more than a hundred years since a person of the domestic regent's shallowness and lack of seriousness had risen to the highest circle of power.  In the foreign regent's country, one needed to be serious to rise, because, well, the possible penalties associated with a failed attempt at power were so serious.  Everyone knew that.  But in America, one could easily dream that there were no penalties for failure.  Who but an adolescent fool would go to a meeting with the most "conservative" bloc in Congress and threateningly order them to vote as instructed?  Did he not know that they had their masters already and he was not among them?  Who but an idiot would tell the American media to shut up and listen?  The American founding document itself suggests that the media must always listen and never shut up.  If the domestic regent wants things contrary to the founding document then he must first lay the proper groundwork, and not fantasize that he has power that he does not have.  Embarrassing mistakes like this were the result of an adolescent inclination toward unreality.  If America would allow this kind of person into the upper reaches of power, then it deserved what was coming for it.  It was reality after all that would undo America.  If one would have power, one must be prepared to deal with reality, which clearly neither the infant president nor the domestic regent were.

Many Americans who did not love the infant president feared that he would achieve his objectives.  It was already clear to the foreign regent that the president would not achieve any of his stated objectives, certainly not in any durable sense.  They were not the infant's objectives anyway, but false objectives he adopted to appease those who loved him, and the rest were real objectives of the same tiny, wealthy, American ruling class that had only become stronger since the waning decades of the 20th century.  The infant had no knowledge, no opinions, no objectives.  The domestic regent had fantasy-tainted knowledge, fantastic opinions, and ludicrous objectives he would never achieve.  Ah, the infant and the adolescent: together they would only hurt the US, and help the foreign regent, but why was he not happier about it?  He had to admit that perhaps after all this time, the seventy years of struggle, he could not help feeling that the great adversary should have better enemies than these two.  It was anticlimactic, after all, the whimper, not the bang, signaling the beginning of the end of the great predatory, bullying superpower, and it shaded the glorious struggle of thousands, millions of heroes who had held it at bay, until at last it was exhausted, weak enough to be brought low by these two comedians.

The foreign regent sensed again a bad taste in the corner of his mouth, but refused to taste it.  His phone vibrated in his vest pocket.  Cursing in a whisper, the foreign regent wheeled about and strode from the room, his head shaking slowly, his disgust perceptible only if you knew him, and observed him carefully.

Thousands of miles away the domestic regent had just completed an about face from the window.  He involuntarily dropped the president's phone behind him.  Across the room the infant was standing straight up in his crib, holding one of his other phones, pouting to the point of crying, and tweeting a message to the world. your social media marketing partner


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+2 # SOF 2017-04-04 22:10
Briliant!! The most fun I've had yet following this final insult to the potential of US.
0 # Paul Bunion 2017-05-02 20:47
Thank you.

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