COMMENTARY | “Game of Thrones” had its second episode of the fourth season and we said farewell to a character who was not so much beloved but memorable. Along the way we learned a valuable lesson about politics.
Some spoilers follow.
Joffrey, the mad, bad boy King of Westeros, on the occasion of what should have been the greatest day of his life, that being his wedding to the beauteous Margaery Tyrell, died messily in the arms of his mother, Cersei, due to drinking from the wrong cup of wine. Joffrey being who he was, the number of suspects are legion. It is not a spoiler to suggest that the man who is about to take the fall for the murder is not the one.
The real reason Joffrey vomited out his life was that he made a crucial mistake that many leaders make in an autocratic regime, which is to believe he had power by entitlement. Thus is a mistake that many leaders in Democratic societies make as well, though the solution to that hubris is invariably gentler than assassination.
That Joffrey abused his power went without saying. From humiliating underlings, such as his Uncle Tyrion, to boasting how he had won the war against Stannis, an obvious lie, Joffrey set himself up for retribution. He did not see the need to cultivate friends and allies. He was the King and all must bend the knee and obey, not matter how capricious the royal will could be.
Most leaders in Democratic countries, such as our current president, abuse their power for policy reasons. President Obama is not as crazy as Joffrey by a long shot, but he has used extra constitutional methods to exert his will. Humiliating his enemies for fun would might just be a happy side effect.
Just as Joffrey was unconscious of the peril he was in, Obama feels secure in the knowledge that he won’t get impeached for his actions. That is likely a safe bet, even if the Republicans take the Senate in 2014.
But he can be punished by the people, first by losing whatever check he has on the legislative branch in 2014 and then by having a successor elected in 2016 who will repair all of the damage he has done. Obama will then spend the rest of his days as his legacy is reduced to ashes. That is a much better fate, all around, and shows the superiority of Democracy to autocracy.