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A Humble Fable In Honor Of

Our Maximum Leader’s 56th Birthday


By David Podvin

Once upon a time, there was a prince. By all accounts, he was a vulgar and ill read chap who spent his days running in place and swilling pretzels. One day his father, who had been king prior to being deposed by a mere peasant, arranged for our hero to ascend to the throne. It was a bloodless coup, if you ignore the savage beating that was taken by the principle of one man/one vote, and ignore it the kingdom’s scribes and criers did.  

To say that the prince was out of his depth is quite an understatement. He had no knowledge of governance or commerce or warfare or anything, really, except the playing of games. The pastimes at which His Highness excelled were not challenges of the mind. He enjoyed competition that involved hand-eye coordination, such as the capture and detonation of frogs.

It was this expertise that the prince brought to the task of governing the people. Amazingly, things soon began to fall apart. The kingdom had been mighty, but now it was ravaged by invaders. Even though the aggressors were puny indeed, the people felt violated and insecure. As a result, they were easily manipulated into surrendering their hard won freedom in exchange for the promise of greater safety. Commerce sagged beneath the weight of the great plunder that the friends of the prince visited on the common folk. The air, which had been clean, and the water, which had been fresh, soon stank of the waste from the endeavors of the unsupervised aristocrats. The army received vast sums taken from the purses of the peasants, which it wasted on nonsense gadgets that were sold to it by the father of the prince.

All in all, things really sucked.

But no one noticed! In spite of his stupor and sloth, the prince was loved by the people. The more he failed in his appointed tasks, the more beloved he became. He was the most popular leader ever, worshipped by every single one of his adoring subjects.

Or so it seemed when reading the mainstream scribblings of the day. In fact, many people loved him not at all. Yet only the malcontents and ne’er do wells were crass enough to say so, for the prince had instilled in the masses suspicion and hostility toward dissent. As a result, naysayers felt compelled to swallow their opposition and go along with the program, even though the program was running the kingdom into the ground.

It was a self-saving approach on their part, for the Great Bald And Oily One – who was second only to the prince – had issued a formal proclamation declaring that to disagree with the rulers of the land was to be disloyal. He had spoken these words out of the side of his mouth, which he was wont to do when he was lying.

Which was always.

It was also forbidden to give aid and comfort to the enemies of the kingdom, with “enemy” being defined as being anyone who did not adore the prince. This decree had been issued by the Imperial Inquisitor. He was a pious man whose powerful faith in the Almighty was made apparent to all by his hair, which forever dripped with the Divine Nectar of Corn. He was widely respected for his great victory in the Battle Against Evil, in which he had single handedly banished every Calico Feline of Satan from the realm.

Also present was the Dark Warrior, a fierce fighter from a tribe of swarthy subjects. He was extremely popular with light skinned peasants. However, his own group had a hard time forgetting that he had turned an ambitious blind eye when the prince seized power by preventing colored people from participating in the casting of ballots.

With a team as well seasoned as this, the scribes and criers loudly proclaimed, it made no difference at all that the prince was a little light in the intellectual loafers. Yet corruption was rife. The kingdom’s surplus of gold had been replaced with worthless promissory notes. Worst of all, gone was the vast reserve of fermented beverages, having been consumed by the daughters of the prince.

When the fury of the people was finally aroused, they demanded to know why the prince had screwed everything up. Even though the scribes and criers sought to calm their raging blood with soothing reassurances that down was really up and wrong was really right, the people eventually demanded to make the prince accountable.

 “I cannot tell a lie,” said the prince. “It is all my processor’s fault. I mean, the blame goes to the prevalent leader. You know, the guy who was in charge right before me.”

“Wait!” said the people, experiencing that sinking feeling in the pits of their stomachs that you get when you’re out of town and suddenly realize you left the water running in the bathtub back home. “Say something more,” they demanded of the prince.

“I,” said the prince, “used to be a small business.”

“Oh, my God,” said the people, as the comfort of collective denial at long last began to wear off. Their wishful thinking about the prince was finally giving way to the realization they that had tried so hard to avoid. Still, the people were hoping against hope that his much heralded personal growth - which the Chattering Class constantly insisted was really there - would surface if given just one last try.

“Tell us another thing,” implored the people, “without looking at those notes that Karl Rove is handing to you. Please say something – ANYTHING - to reassure us about your ability to lead during these difficult times. We’re willing to grasp at straws.”

“I am going to help you put food on your family!” trumpeted the prince, chest swelling with pride as he flaunted his formidable ability to ad lib.

All were now despondent. The gibberish of the prince had sounded so much better during the good times, when prosperity existed for as far as the eye could see. To most, his mangled syntax and convoluted reasoning had even been a source of inspiration following the first attack on the kingdom. But suddenly, in the context of seemingly endless conflict and worsening impoverishment, his mindless babble was somewhat less charming. In fact, it totally reeked – Big Time!

The people were overcome with shame for having exalted such a dunce. Belatedly, they came to terms with the fact that they were being led by someone who had once unblinkingly stared for hours at a carton of orange juice on which was printed the word  “Concentrate”. Exclaimed an old mule driver, “Our prince does not have the brains of my ass here,”  and everyone took note that – when he said it - there was nary a donkey in sight.

So whatever became of this forlorn kingdom that had once been so blessed?

Did the people rise up against the perfidy of the prince and exile him to his native Extremely Polluted Land of Daily Lethal Injections?

Or did they passively accept their fate and just reconcile themselves to living La Vida Lousy?

Remain steadfast, dear Reader.

You will find out in about two years.

More David Podvin

Podvin, the Series


Last changed: December 13, 2009