It seems to be a morning for exceptional posts. Not mine, but I can point to ’em. (I did miss Krugman’s Nobel lecture, 3am here on the left coast. Have to catch the video, I guess.)
… But who, in fact, was he? And I think the plain answer is that he was no one special, one more failed scion of a failing family, a ruler who could only be considered remarkable, whether for better or worse, in a nation that still fancies itself a democracy. Were we communists, or better yet a monarchy, his vapidity and mediocrity wouldn’t shock us at all. People less in thrall to the myth of their own great, national, deliberative process are less inclined to surprise when a bumbler, an asshole, or a moron shows up in the imperial palace, playing dress-up and treating international affairs like a board game. Your own experience in a hierarchy without democratic pretensions should tell you as much. It might drive you nuts, but when was the last time you were surprised that the boss turned out to be an idiot? One could make the case, perhaps, that elections are a reasonable scheme for a city-state somewhere, but a hundred million harried citizens making hazy decisions after two years of propaganda isn’t qualitatively different from the happenstance of heredity or the rolling of dice. And George W. Bush, god bless him, is the proof.