Friday, November 9, 2007

Image Maintenance

Saddam Hussein used an Arabic version of the song “I Will Always Love You,” written by Dolly Parton, in his 2002 presidential campaign,

“…though it would be unfair to blame Ms Parton for his victory, since there was no one else on the ballot.”
--The Economist, November 10th–16th, 2007, 42.

Many dictators are sentimental, relishing public shows of their popularity. They hold elections but do not allow anyone to run against them, or else they bully and cheat the opposition into defeat.

A friend of mine calls this phenomenon, as it occurs in families, “image maintenance.”

In her own family, for instance, her father, a generally benevolent pater familias, leads the prayers before holiday meals. Other family members may join in, supposedly.
Last Christmas, however, when someone began a prayer whose political implications the father did not like, he cut it off, thundering,
“I’ll do the praying here!”

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