It’s amazing how often, when I tune in to an 8 o’clock TCM movie, I wonder whether the programmers have an eye to the week’s news.
Last night the film “Cromwell” was not only a missing lesson in British history for someone who did high school in France, the messages for today were stunning: King George (the real one) was not listening to Parliament: the Lords were inclined to let it go on; the representatives, mainly Puritans, were angry but not very courageous, and Oliver Cromwell was the hothead who bullied them into fighting. Notwithstanding treachery from the Lords, he led an ultimately victorious army. He then gave the King a last chance to be reasonable, but when it turned out the King was raising foreign armies to defend his throne, Cromwell forced a pusillanimous parliament to impeach him, and he was beheaded. When a parliamentary delegation offered him the throne, he told them they had to govern, but after six years of increasing anarchy and corruption, he sent them packing. Still refusing to be king, Cromwell reigned as Lord Protector for another six years, paving the way for the modern British monarchy, in which power is vested in Parliament.
Here’s the irony: we have a fundamentalist president, who sends our unsuspecting - because ill-schooled - youth to fight Muslim fundamentalists, flouting the authority of the Congress, which is accused of wanting to “micromanage” the war. Our king obviously hopes that the public, ill-schooled in American civics, will forget that the army is under civilian control, i.e., Congress.
Harry Reid may not be as dashing as the galloping, sword- wielding Cromwell, but it’s beginning to look as though he’s read British history.