And you say to yourself: “Steamboat has fallen over the edge of sanity! Why in the world would anyone want a Professional Fool? And what kind of fool would want to be a Professional Fool?”
Have patience with me, Gentle Reader. Work with me here for just a minute.
Back some 2,000 years ago, the Romans had a tradition of voting a “Triumph” to conquering generals. This was a big deal because a Triumph was a step to higher office and more political power.
The “Triumph” was a parade in which all of the “loot” of the conquest was displayed. The General rode in a chariot and was hailed by the people as a great hero. It was a bigger deal than a ticker tape parade down 5th Avenue plus the adoring crowd at a Beatles concert. However, to keep the Triumphant General grounded in reality, a slave rode with him in the chariot. The slave continuously whispered “you are only human” to the General.
Fast forward 1,000 years. Kings had absolute power. Annoy the King and you could loose your head. The Kings also believed that God wanted them to be King. A heady combination of ego, power, and hubris.
There was nobody that could tell the King anything that he didn’t want to hear.
There was a traditional “job” in the King’s Court. That was the job of “Fool”. The role was complex, but the bottom line was the Fool could remind everyone of the fundamental values of their society and tell the “Truth” to the King. For more details, see: http://www.foolsforhire.com/info/history.html
Fast forward again to the Bubba Clinton administration. The Clinton’s despised the military. Bubba wrote a letter in which he said that he “loathed” the military. Colin Powell relates in his autobiography how a senior Army General assigned to the White House was confronted by a young girl staffer and told “We don’t speak to your kind around here”. And Hillary figuratively spit on General Petraeus with her comment about “total suspension of disbelief”.
The contempt that pervaded Bubba Clinton’s administration was not lost on the military assigned there. But….many of the military assigned to the White House were tasked to protect Bubba. Would you give your life for someone who openly despised you? I don’t think so! Bubba’s staff was aware of the problem. But, due to Bubba’s vicious, nasty temper, no one could tell him the truth. Bubba needed a Professional Fool to tell him the truth about how he treated the military. He also needed one to tell him to keep his trousers zipped.
Most every Very Important Person needs a Fool. For example, there are two issues that have cost Governor Perry dearly. The Trans-Texas corridor and the HPV vaccine. If he had a good Professional Fool, he might have been able to avoid these problems. For instance, instead of mandating the HPV vaccine for every girl in Texas schools, he could have just made it available to every parent who wanted their daughter to have it.
But he just didn’t have a good Professional Fool.
It was his loss.
If you know a politician, you might suggest that he needs a Professional Fool.
Steamboat Jack (my evil twin)