Why Deal With Princes? (poetry & politics)

The things people say when they don't know the Feds have a wire ...

Another bit of dark humor to enjoy while Election Day plays out (be sure to vote!).

Elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in November 1974, Elaine Noble was one of the first openly gay or lesbian elected officials in the country — the first elected to state level office and the second to any office (an Ann Arbor city councilor beat her by seven months).

After serving two two-year terms and facing unfavorable redistricting, she joined the administration of Boston mayor Kevin White, but it was not a felicitous career move. A federal wire caught her 1981 response to a real estate developer who had been the target of a low-level official’s extortion attempt. That attempt was not “authorized,” she reportedly said — and, anyway, “Why do business with princes when you can deal with kings?”

Noble defended that headline-grabbing remark as just “gay, campy talk” and, although called before a grand jury, she was never indicted. But while Noble decamped to the private sector, pay-to-play stayed behind and remains, as it had ever been, a central feature of American politics in various guises.

Usually, of course, this takes the form of legal, albeit sometimes massive, contributions to campaigns, parties and PACs. But while those can be corrosive enough, there are also still politicians who insist on a personal profit from participating supplicants. Among those is one who boasted four years ago that he was too wealthy to be bought, but whose DC hotel and Florida country club were, even then, becoming de rigueur haunts for those seeking federal business or presidential largesse.

Since then, Trump has reportedly pocketed tidy sums from politically-inflected patronage at his businesses, and why not? After all, as he pointed out in a different context, “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” That certainly applies to money-grubbing as well as pussy-grabbing, and presidents no less than mere stars. And it makes a poem inspired by Noble’s inadvertent soundbite as timely as ever. Give it a listen or a read below.

Listen!

Why Deal With Princes?

Why deal with princes
when you can deal with kings?
Going straight to the top
can yield many things.

Grease a few guys
and you might build to the skies:
but go right to the top
and you’ll own the whole block!

Money’s the milk
from the teat we all suckle:
And the local DA?
He gives me a chuckle.

The Feds too are dirty;
there’s no cop on the beat.
Serving the public
is the ultimate treat.

So ignore all the princelings
and just pay the King:
For I am the one
Who controls — everything.

——

You might also like “Trump — the Musical!” … available in paperback and Kindle.