As President Wiggum details yet another bombing of a muslim country for their own good --- I swear, part of America's current mission policy statement is to rain death from the clouds upon each and every country in the world, in turn and prolly ending up with themselves --- it can't hurt to visit one of my favourite passages, from Herbert Gorman's magnificent 1947 fictionalization of L'Affaire Boulanger, Brave General, painting the general's unfortunate -- in consequence --- visit to Prince Napoleon's Chateau at Prangins, in the canton of Vaud [ Obit ]. When did a Plon-Plon benefit anyone ? Suitable no doubt since Obama shares with Georges his amiable nullity, combined even yet with the fading aura of one also once claimed as messiah who brought death and dictatorial misery as travelling companions.
Yanks of a liberal disposition now try to disassociate themselves and Bush-Lite from any suspicion of Obamamania, claiming that it was their opponents who fastened the unreal expectations of a new dispensation upon the reputation of a remarkably shifty candidate and soon to be dilettante president, yet none who actually lived through November of '08 will forget the revolting genuflections and hosannas which accompanied that victory; like Boulanger, who twisted in turn to solicit support from correct legitimists and the slippery factions who composed the body politic of the corrupt Third Republic, orleanists, bonapartists, socialists, clericals etc. etc., all realising in turn that he lacked spirit to do good for any, and not even for himself, the president courted foolishly his alleged enemies for bi-partisan support without having much of a plan for even the semblance of victory. As to whether being a hollow man is better than being a criminal worshipped war-lord, I can't say; but trying to be both is a respectable recipe for disaster.
As Gorman includes: In Politics one insisted to the last that one's party was winning, and when one's party did not win one spent the the next week inventing extraneous excuses for the defeat. The simple fact that one's party had lost because it had not received as many votes as the other fellow's party was never a conclusive explanation in itself. Politics, it appeared, was a constant self-justification. If I had done that, if I had done this, if the question had been properly presented, if my agent in that particular place... if the funds had been distributed as... if... if... if... Ah, that was politics. It was an absurd game of chess with crazy moves and cheating antagonists who stole your pawns when you were not looking. There was more politics, she thought, in republics than there were in kingdoms or empires for the simple reason that in republics there was no definitive iron hoof to stamp it out. That was good. So everybody said. The People spoke. Sometimes they spoke in a dozen clashing voices and nothing was resolved, or, if was resolved, it took a long time and the resolution lost a part of its strength. Like the American Congress. A wilful minority in that Paradise of democracy could indefinitely obstruct the will of the majority. That was called rule by the people. It sounded more like rule by the sediment that was too clotted to go down the drain. It held back everything.
Twilight was falling
Twilight was falling when the Prince, looking very much like a blown-up caricature of his august uncle, waddled into the large library with the General at his heels.
"If you enter politics," he was saying, "you will soon discover it to be a nasty and merciless business. Have you a fortune ?"
"Not a sou, "replied the General.
"Well," said the Prince, as he thrust his hand into the front of his waistcoat, "if you run aground you will never be a stranger here."
Thiébaud, who was standing by one of the glass cases of relics with Berthet-Leleux, turned smilingly towards the two men.
"I have been thrilled by some of the objects in this case, Your Imperial Highness," he declared. "Look here, my General. Here are some things that will stir your soldier's heart."
Boulanger advanced towards the relics eagerly, and the Prince followed, his broad face wreathed with smiles.
"Yes," he said, "I intended to show you some of these sacred souvenirs. Berthet-Leleux, hand me the keys."
The four men gathered before the case, while the Prince awkwardly unlocked the glass-panelled door.
"There are the spurs that He wore on the return from Italy," he explained. "And there is the cockade that was in His hat the day He made them eat grapeshot at the Church of Saint-Roch. There are two of His pistols and the sash He wrapped around His middle when He drove the recalcitrant Council of the Five Hundred out of the Orangerie. And here... here..."
He reached into the case and withdrew an Egyptian sabre in a gold-plated and bejewelled sheath. He extended it towards the General.
"This is the sword the First Consul carried at Marengo," he said solemnly.
For an instant the magic of the Cult impregnated the still air in the library. Afterwards Thiébaud swore that he heard the distant grumble of grenadier drums as the General stretched forward a respectful hand and lightly touched the hilt of the glittering weapon.
"Are you sure that this is the sabre of the First Consul ?" he demanded in a hushed voice.
The Prince smiled.
"Do you think that this is bric-à-brac I have collected in flea-markets ?" he asked proudly.
"It is a beautiful souvenir," declared the General in a reverent tone.
His hand again caressed the hilt of the sword as lightly, as tenderly as though it were the upturned face of a beloved woman. Thiébaud saw the grave melancholy visage of a professional soldier to whom warfare was a religion and in whose eyes the saints wore burnished epaulets. Like the Moor in the English play his profession was his life and without it he would have no life at all... nothing, indeed, but existence. What, then ? What, then ? The journalist closed his mind to the answer. The Prince, too, observed the General's emotion and instinctively understood it. After all, he was a Bonaparte. Turning, he carefully placed the sabre back on the velvet in the open case.
"General," he said, "when you have returned Alsace and Lorraine back to France I will offer you this sword."
Justin entered the shadowy library with a lighted candelabra.
As elsewhere, earlier in the book, eternal truth remains for some of us outside all such montebanks of apparent power...
It was after four o'clock in the morning when the Polish waiter, leaning like an old collapsed scarecrow against the corridor wall, saw the door open and the octet emerge in a compact group. They were no longer laughing.
"Remember," said Laguerre. "My dinner is tonight. You are all invited. In the meantime..."
"In the meantime we have accomplished nothing," snapped Clemenceau.
"We are moving to an understanding," said the General mildly.
Ignace observed how Clemenceau turned a brief sour glance at the handsome gentleman with the blond beard.
"Whose understanding ?" demanded the Breton abruptly.
As they were going down the stairs Ignace turned to Monsieur Frédéric.
"They all detest one another," he remarked in a surprised tone.
Monsieur Frédéric, who had been a maître d'hôtel for thirty years, shrugged his shoulders.
"After all," he replied, "we live under a Republic. They have the liberty to detest one another. As for me... I am a Royalist."