The Night They Washed Over the Crown

A thousand years ago, King Cnut the Great set his throne upon the edge of the sea and commanded that the waves not wet his feet or his robes as the tide came in. Often cited incorrectly as an example of kingly arrogance, Cnut’s story is actually one of humility. Unlike our President, Cnut knew perfectly well that he could not turn the tide and he wanted his followers to know it as well.

Poor President Obama. Not only has he failed to acquire the insight of Cnut, he has failed Kipling’s man-test, or at least the part about keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. Whereas Cnut jumped back in mock surprise, Obama is jumping forward to say things like, “No matter what some agency may say, we have always been and always will be a triple-A country.” Mmmmmmm…yeah. All he left out was, “Dammit!” Oh, and “Where’s my head?”

I am not sure where his head is, though I have some colorful ideas on that subject. The man is an embarrassment. He seems genuinely rattled by all this, incapable of digesting his own impotence in the face of market forces. We should not be surprised, though. His entire view of the world seems to revolve around government. Where a lot won’t work, a lot more will.

Watching the Dow fall like a dead goose was both alarming and fascinating–kind of like watching that boulder roll down the cavern as Indiana Jones races to escape with his new newfound treasure. I take no comfort in seeing the bottom fall out of the stock market, but I do enjoy watching the pressure build–the kind of pressure the truth brings to cowards and liars. The jig is up and both parties know it in their guts if not in their heads. We have reached our Day of Reckoning and there is no place to hide.

I doubt anyone is learning anything. Obama can blame the Tea Party all he wants, but the fact remains that his liberal view of the world is dead, killed by economic reality. As he reflexively invokes class envy, screams for more taxes, and engages in rich-baiting, the waves continue to roll in, heedless of his preference for much of anything.

It would be nice for our President to learn humility, but the Anointed never get it. Obama will go through whatever remains of his time in office believing that a vast right-wing conspiracy plotted with the sea to make him look bad. He will marvel that the tide carried in a harsh rebuke rather than compliance. He will, like all who hold themselves in royal esteem, find his fiery opinion of himself doused, but we are the ones who will drown.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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