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February 20, 2020

Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?

Henry II, who is alleged to have said this shortly before the murder of Thomas Becket, must have had a “resistance” faction in his court much like that in the Trump administration. Ordinarily powerful leaders don’t have to be explicit about what they want to happen; most of their staff spends most of its time trying to figure out what the boss wants and doing it without being told. Giving the boss credible deniability has long been grounds for promotion. This is true in corporations, charities, and governments.

But much of the ranks of the US government is left over from prior administrations and wants to do the exact opposite of what the boss wants and would like to implicate him, not give him deniability. That’s why IMO we have the strange spectacle of the President tweeting for lenient treatment of a former henchman. Normally henchmen get favored treatment without the leader having to say a word. I think Henry II must have had the same problem or 1) Beckett would not have defied him 2) he wouldn’t have had to ask for Beckett to be terminated.

The Chronicle of the Kings of England has another version of Henry’s statement: "Will none of these lazy insignificant persons, whom I maintain, deliver me from this turbulent priest?" Sounds a lot like the self-pitying tone we often hear from Trump.

You just can’t get good help in the swamp.

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