As an avid fan of Game of Thrones, I refuse to take the weekend off. Since I can’t watch a new episode tonight, I’ve taken time to contemplate similarities between the HBO series and today’s political environment.
Is Wendy Davis your Sansa Stark of American politics: naïve, beautiful and unfairly maligned, as she is viewed in many Democratic homes? Perhaps, despite the gender difference, you join many establishment Republicans in seeing Mitt Romney as more like Sansa. From a Tea Party perspective, Michelle Bachmann remains a constant victim of unfair abuse, never taken seriously for her ideas, but still paraded around for either self-promotion or degradation, depending on who hosts the event.
Is Hillary Clinton your Khaleesi Daenerys, as she is clearly seen by most mainstream Democrats today? She is their freer of the enslaved, ruthless and calculating, but also patient and the rightful heir to the throne from the perspective of loyalist Democrats, though I’m not sure even her most avid followers want to see the former Secretary of State emerge unclothed from any fire. Sarah Palin is as close to a Khaleesi as the Tea Party sees out there, but Chris Christie’s bridge collapse leaves mainstream Republicans searching for a hero who fits their Khaleesi hopes of riding to the rescue from outside of Washington.
Beyond being compelling television, Games of Thrones portrays a vivid picture of all that is flawed with America’s political system. It also provides a fictional comparison against which to view today’s political players. Since Democrats do a much better job of sticking together than Republicans, I looked at today’s environment through the eyes of Democrats, Tea Party members and mainstream Republicans. It’s clear there are wide differences in how each perceives the world.
While Hillary may be Daenerys to Democrats, she’s Queen Cersei to establishment Republicans. Democrats see Sarah Palin as playing the vindictive, hateful, mean-spirited Cersei role, while Tea Party members are as apt to see John Boehner as Queen Cersei as they are to view Hillary Clinton in that role.
King Joffrey is the most hateful, spoiled and evil of characters. While all of these men are alive, George W. Bush continues to be portrayed by Democrats as this generation’s Joffrey. Tea Partiers clearly see Barack Obama as fitting the Joffrey character, right down to demanding he gets to kill and control his own citizens without interference by the courts, Congress and the Constitution. Mainstream Republicans seem as intent on portraying Senator Ted Cruz as the next Joffrey as they are at ascribing that role to President Obama.
Tea Party members and Democrats would likely agree that Karl Rove is today’s Lord Baelish, while mainstream Republicans still think James Carville holds that role. Harry Reid is doing everything in his power to convince Democrats that the Koch Brothers are American’s equivalent of Lord Tywin, while Tea Party Republicans point to George Soros. Mainstream Republicans realize that Richard Trumka has effective control of the Democratic party, even if he can’t always prevent candidates from asking for trial by combat rather than accept his verdicts.
Who’s the Brienne of Tarth, the brave, tough and lonely woman who proves her honor and strength over and over? To Democrats, no one has better fit this role than Senator Barbara Mikulski over the years, while Condoleezza Rice is exactly that admirable soldier for mainstream Republicans. To Tea Party Republicans, Ann Coulter gets the Brienne nod over Michelle Malkin, largely based on height.
Harry Reid is the Hound to every Republican these days, while Democrats enjoy painting Dick Cheney in the soulless, bloodthirsty, money-seeking role. Robb Stark, a once-attractive character killed following poor decisions on who to trust, is just like John McCain from a mainstream Republican perspective. Marco Rubio is Robb Stark’s closest Tea Party comparison. Soon if not already, Joe Biden will play Robb Stark to Democrats.
Comparing Game of Thrones to today’s political system makes for an interesting exercise, but also makes clear that too much time is spent today on political infighting and too little attention on solving problems and preparing for coming threats. Who are America’s White Walkers? Secretary of State John Kerry and others recently suggested that global warming is the world’s greatest threat. I must admit I am not yet convinced that being forced to move to higher ground, even if that turns out to be the world’s future, is a more tragic outcome than having millions and perhaps more lives stamped out in the name of a cause that ultimately leads back to some power-thirsty psychotic ruler.
I have my thoughts on who would plays the part of many of the other Game of Thrones roles in today’s political world depending on who is creating the cast, but I welcome yours. Who best represents the kingslayer Jamie Lannister, the dead king Robert Baratheon, the bastard Jon Snow, and perhaps my favorite characters of Tyrion Lannister and Arya Stark? Who is your Varys and Catelyn Stark and Khal Drogo? How about your King Tommen, Samwell Tarly, Margaery Tyrell, Ygritte or Hodor?
Perhaps most importantly, what are the real White Walker issues that threaten our very existence?