donderdag, december 05, 2002

The Nefarious Reign of Sheriff Taylor

When John J. Dilulio, a Democrat who led the White House office of faith-based initiatives until August 2001, was quoted in the January issue of Esquire magazine as saying: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis," I was reminded of a long ago Andy Griffith Show episode in which Barney Fife promulgated in his strung out soprano stuccato: "It's a wilderness out there and every so often a beast of prey comes sneaking in. Now, it's my job as a lawman to stalk him and run him out. That's my number one job...stalking, not fly-killin'."

Who'd have thunk it? Mayberry and the White House in the same sentence. Ok, I might have seen it coming had Razorback Bill Clinton still been in office. The spawn of backwater politics couldn't have been too far from his hootenanny brethren over in Mayberry. But the White House of the esemplastic George W. Bush? Say it ain't so!

Now that I've recovered, I thought a little deeper dissection of this neologism was in order. After all, while we know Niccolò Machiavelli outlined a scheme for governmental policy based on retaining power rather than pursuing ideals, what do we know of Mayberry's own political machinery?

According to episode 188, upon interviewing many descendents of the people involved in the historic Battle of Mayberry, Opie learned that the battle was nothing more than a misunderstanding caused by too much liquor. Was this theatrical militarism a key to the beginnings of Sheriff Andy Taylor as a well-established, ubiquitous Ultimate Evil Power? It's difficult to discern. After all, according to the(Asheboro, N.C.) Courier-Tribune, N.C. Governor-elect Mike Easley not only won the battle at the ballot box, but also the endorsement battle with his selection of Andy Griffith as a spokesman. According to Brad Crone, a political consultant and panelist on Wednesday's NCSPIN television talk show, "It was a Mayberry Miracle! Andy Griffith saved the east for Easley."

This says nothing of Sheriff Taylor's own cynical monocratism. In episode 148, Barney runs for Sheriff, having the nerve to challenge the mighty Andy to a debate and accuses him of malfeasance. The examples he cites are typical Taylor oversights, such as allowing jaywalking, failing to have emergency equipment such as tear gas and submachine guns, and refusing to carry a sidearm. Andy readily admits he is guilty, but Barney backs off, endorsing Andy as the man for the job.

You see Sheriff Taylor was a crafty politician, some might even say, a Machiavelli in a sheriff's uniform. Why do you think he kept locking up that same drunk Otis, night after night? Because he could then artificially inflate crime statistics to make it appear he was arresting more miscreants than he was in reality. The nightly lockups of Otis alone constituted some 89% of all arrests in Mayberry during Sheriff Taylor's terror and turpitude.

Now, whether or not the current White House could be considered so cynical is solely a matter of opinion. I mean even DiIulio himself later reversed his claims in a statement that reaked of chickenshit backtracking and all sorts of pestiferous truth-fixing: "John DiIulio agrees that his criticisms were groundless and baseless due to poorly chosen words and examples. He sincerely apologizes and is deeply remorseful," a university spokeswoman said.

Do you think Sheriff Taylor would have bailed out like that? Fat chance. He would have stood his ground, making Philistine claims much like the beloved Ari Fleischer did in response to the firestorm of controversy over the Esquire article when he boldly declared that "Any suggestion that the White House makes decisions that are not based on sound policy reasons is baseless and groundless."

Right on Ari. The White House is the master of its own reality and destiny. As Winston Churchill once said "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."

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