You remember the story, don’t you? Or, like me, some semblance of it? The main point or moral? With apologies to Hans Christian Andersen, here’s my rendering – with a moral for our time.
The emperor was bored. He had anything and everything a human being could want: riches, absolute power, peace in his kingdom, the companionship of lovely damsels – everything. But now he was bored.
So he thought, “I need new clothes! And not just any clothes, not clothes that some other emperor might wear. I want the finest garments anybody ever had, or saw or even thought of. I’ll call in my tailors and order them to make me absolutely the finest clothes ever made!”
And so he did. He issued those exact orders to his tailors.
But they were greatly perplexed. How could they know what kind of clothes would be considered the finest ever made? How could they know whether or not some other emperor had worn something even finer?
And so they came up with a fantastic plan. They would draw up fabulous designs, and once the emperor had approved them, they would inform him they had discovered the sheerest, most exquisite fabric ever woven – and make his new clothes from this unique cloth.
That’s what they did, and the emperor tingled with excitement and anticipation, waiting for his new wardrobe. He even announced that he would order a royal parade on a certain day, and show off his new clothes to his eager subjects.
The big day came, the tailors “draped” the emperor in his new sheer finery, and he rode through the capital city on the front of his chariot, waving to his loyal, curious subjects. The people craned their necks, straining to see the style, cut and splendor of the unprecedented clothes they’d heard so much about. And though the people really couldn’t see any clothes at all, the tailors had convinced the emperor, and he let it be widely known, that the nonexistent fabrics were so sheer that they were almost invisible to the uncultured eye. No one wanted to admit the new clothes weren’t visible to them. And so they cheered the emperor and his nakedness all along the parade route.
But when the chariot finally came to a halt, a little boy was heard exclaiming loudly, “Father, the emperor has no clothes on! Why does he have no clothes?”
And almost immediately the crowd began to laugh, echoing what the little boy had said, and acknowledging what everybody had seen but was afraid to say – “He’s right! The emperor has no clothes at all! He’s naked!”
And so it is in this unbelievable election season.
We come within weeks now of electing a new president for our next four years. We come at a time when our nation is in grave peril, economically and militarily and socially. We come at a time of energy shortage and many other governmental and societal challenges. Our biggest financial institutions are caving, our states are overrun with millions of illegal aliens, the Russian bear is rising on its haunches, hungry after its long nap, and many tell us our planet itself is threatened with extinction.
Our choices have been narrowed to two candidates: One is a mature, experienced, seasoned veteran – both politically and militarily. And the other is a novice – scarcely trained in any of the requirements of the presidency, but an eloquent, persuasive speaker.
Incredibly, masses of people and almost the entire media establishment in America have become rabid in their support of the second candidate. They almost froth at the mouth as they extol his speeches about “change,” agreeing with his pronouncement “we are the ones we have been waiting for!”
No matter that the novice hasn’t done any of the things he promises to accomplish. Irrelevant that he has zero experience in any administrative capacity. Above all, the presidency requires a chief executive, schooled in issuing directives, delegating responsibility and managing the ultimate business. This candidate can point only to “organizing” community efforts around social causes on the south side of Chicago. It seems not to concern the media or legions of sophisticated corporate types that this untried politician has spent almost all his time in elective office running for still higher office. They seem ready to crown him emperor solely because he exudes confidence, he has a sonorous voice, and he can say things that politicians have always said, yet make them sound so wonderful and fresh.
Because he looks and sounds like the ideal liberal candidate, his “tailors” seem ready to clothe him in magisterial robes and trappings of a real leader, one who can somehow magically create “change” out of nothing but wishes, dreams and sweet speech. There’s a dreamlike quality to his whole campaign, one that promises a new Camelot, a new JFK era of hope and vigor and youthful energy.
And though he promised early that he’d only take public funds for his campaign, as McCain is doing now, Obama changed his moral stance after he discovered supporters large and small would shower him with more than $300 million dollars, unregulated, to spend how ever he and his “tailors” liked.
So, now he and his entertainer/media/liberal machine campaign managers – his “tailors” – have been busy fashioning the most elegant garments imaginable for their Prince of Pomposity, their Man Who Should Be King, people of real accomplishment, who should know better, stand back in awe as they contemplate the candidate of no discernable skills but articulate speech and an appealing political posture. They see him garbed in majesty, and proclaim him beautiful.
But surely – hopefully before Nov. 4 – a child, or even an honest childlike person, will exclaim for the whole electorate to hear, “But the man has no clothes on … no record of accomplishment, no experience to qualify him, no maturity or wisdom or knowledge. He’s naked!”
Fables are nice, they’re fun – but they’re for children. What America needs right now is a man, a seasoned, experienced real man. A man who has fought and won, a man who has seen the inner workings of government and actually accomplished things for his country. A man prepared by hard reality and long experience to lead.
Let the “emperor” revel in his new clothes, his imagined finery. But let the country follow a man who wears his wounds and scars with quiet honor and earned respect, a man whose ability to lead is a well-worn and authentic suit.