Once upon a time there was an Emperor who was very rich, very vain, and exceedingly foolish. In his country emperors were elected every four years, and because many of the people had become tired of voting for Emperor after Emperor, only to find that the new one wore the same clothes as the last one, he promised that if they voted for him, he would wear a new set of clothes.
“Vote for me,” he said. “I’ll put on my new clothes to drain the swamp that’s been bothering you all. And I’ll stop getting involved in fighting wars with countries that pose no threat to us and which I can’t even find on a map. I’ll be a great Emperor with unbelievable new clothes.”
Now his pledge to wear a new set of clothes made the media and the establishment very nervous, for they saw that it meant the end of their plans to grow the swamp and fight more wars. But despite trying every trick in the book to stop the people voting for him, millions completely ignored them and voted for him anyway, even though he was known to be a narcissistic boor.
Now it happened that just after he was elected and was about to put on his new clothes, a group of Weavers of Fantastic Yarns came and asked for an audience with the Emperor:
“Oh great and glorious Emperor,” they said. “Has there ever been as fine an Emperor in all the world?”
This they said to flatter him, knowing that he was as vain as a peacock and wouldn’t realise how ridiculous it sounded, given that he’d only been Emperor for a few minutes and hadn’t yet done anything, for good or ill. It worked. Quickly the Emperor Tweeted that some people had said he was really great.
“Sire,” continued the Weavers of Fantastic Yarns, “it is our humble duty to inform you that the clothes you are wearing, which you have told everybody are new, are in fact not new at all.”
The Emperor looked up from Twitter with a look of surprise on his face:
“Not new?” Whaddya mean not new?”
“They are in fact old clothes,” they continued. “Very old.”
The Emperor sat open-mouthed, not knowing how to respond, and so they continued.
“Did not the first Emperor warn against getting involved in ‘foreign entanglements’?”
“Indeed Sire,” said the Weavers. “And did not another of your predecessors say that a nation committed to liberty ‘goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy’ but ‘is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all?’”
“Yes, your majesty,” replied the Weavers. “And that was two hundred years ago. So you see, when you say that you want to stop fighting wars abroad, and get along with other nations, you must understand that these are not new clothes at all, as you have been led to believe, but rather very old and worn indeed.”
And so the poor Emperor, who prided himself in his appearance, who hated the thought of anyone thinking his clothes old and shabby, and who had thought his clothes were very new – “very, very new and unbelievably beautiful” as he repeatedly told people – looked flummoxed. He was about to go onto Twitter to take out his anger on the lying media and fake news, when the Weavers presented him with an idea:
“If we might make so bold, your majesty,” they said. “Why not let us weave you a fine set of new clothes? We are Weavers from the Guild of the Neocons, certified by the Deep State, and we can make you a splendid new suit in no time at all. It will be a suit to make you admired by everyone, and even the mainstream media, who currently hate you, will say that you are wonderful.”
“They will?” said the Emperor, his eyes lighting up at the thought of being universally loved.
“Of course,” said the Weavers. “So too will the establishment.”
“It will?” said the Emperor. “But didn’t I promise to drain it?”
“Yes, but isn’t it better to just get along with everyone?” replied the Weavers. “And besides, if you don’t do what they say they might have to have you killed or impeached.”
And so the Emperor agreed to let the Weavers of Fantastic Yarns make him a new set of clothes. To his surprise, they already had the apparel ready, made to measure, as if they had known that he would agree with their plan. As he stood in front of a mirror admiring himself, the Weavers poured flattery over him like maple syrup from a bottle:
“The clothes are indeed beautiful,” they said, “but on anyone else they would look rather ordinary. Whereas on your majesty, they look unbelievably fine. You are indeed now the most radiant Emperor the world has ever known.”
The Emperor agreed with their assessment and immediately went on to Twitter to tell everyone how Bigly Beautiful he looked.
Now there came a day when the Emperor was dining with an Emperor from overseas, when he decided to try on his new clothes. As soon as he put them on, he dropped his spoon, which he had been using to eat the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen, and then dropped 59 missiles on a sovereign country, for no apparent purpose, although he thought it made him look kinda tough. Immediately, the media and the establishment stood to applaud him, and said what a fine Emperor he was.
“Amazing,” thought the Emperor. “These new clothes sure are great. Really, really great. Now even the lying media thinks I’m a proper Emperor.”
A few days later he decided to try on the new clothes once more. This time, the clothes caused him to drop one of the most enormous bombs ever seen, again for no apparent purpose, other than showing off.
“What a great Emperor he is,” cried the media and the establishment almost wetting themselves. “Doesn’t he look splendid in his new clothes?”
Overjoyed at the praise of his former enemies, a few days later the Emperor once again put on his new clothes, and this time he started saying threatening things in order to needlessly stoke up tensions against a country that possessed nuclear weapons. Once again, the media and the establishment swooned with joy at the prospect of conflict.
“The Emperor has been brought to heel,” they said. “And it didn’t take long, did it? If he carries on like this we might even agree to stop all the absurd conspiracy theories we’ve been carrying on about him since he was elected. Just as long as he carries on doing what we tell him to do of course.”
And so whenever the Emperor put on his new clothes, spoons were dropped, threats were made and bombs went off in all sorts of faraway places, just to make sure everyone knew who was boss. And the media and the establishment, who had been worried about what he might do to them, breathed a sigh of relief that the Emperor now did pretty much what they wanted him to do. And of course they encouraged him to put his new clothes on as often as possible.
But one day, as he was holding a rally to brag about his achievements and to show off his new clothes, a little boy stood up and pointed to the Emperor, saying:
“Look everyone. The Emperor hasn’t got new clothes on at all. He’s wearing the same old clothes that the Weavers of Fantastic Yarns from the Guild of Neocons have been spinning for decades now.”
And as the little boy was ejected roughly by security, many in the crowd who had voted for the Emperor realised he was right. Same old clothes. Same old policies.