Tuesday :: Dec 20, 2005

Rhyming From History


by larre

Mark Twain famously remarked that history never repeats but occasionally it rhymes.

George Bush's admittedly deliberate program to spy on Americans amounts to nothing less than a coup against the Constitution and, for that matter, Congress itself. It is therefore perfectly logical that in looking for historical parallels we should examine the seminal struggles between King and Parliament known as the English Civil Wars, which began in 1642; the Glorious Revolution of 1688; and the English Bill of Rights of 1689, which served as Madison's model for the American Bill of Rights, which Mr. Bush apparently believes he has the power to ignore.

I'm no student of English history, but I'm sure there are many among our readers who can help us understand the lessons of that time and how they may relate to our own. To start things off, consider this description of the despot James I, whose rule set the stage for the historic struggle between King and Parliament:

The status of the monarchy had started to decline under the reign of James I [1566-1625]. He was known as the 'wisest fool in Christendom'. James was a firm believer in the "divine right of kings". This was a belief that God had made someone a king and as God could not be wrong, neither could anyone appointed by him to rule a nation. James expected Parliament to do as he wanted; he did not expect it to argue with any of his decisions."
I want to be clear on this much ...

I am not suggesting that with this spy scandal Bush has set us on a course for a new civil war (although, of course, no one can know that for certain). Nor am I so much as hinting that someone in the White House eventually may abdicate and escape the country, as James II did, or lose his head like Charles I.

However, as Bush works to play chicken with Congress's desire to adjourn for the holidays Christian Christmas, one almost can hear the faint sounds of The Short Parliament, from which we usually date the start of the English Civil Wars. One may wonder, too, if our current Congress has the courage to commence A Long Parliament as next year unfolds.

larre :: 4:47 AM :: Comments (48) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!