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A literary scenario: The head of state of a large, heavily armed nation that dominates the world in military and commercial power is losing his grip on reality due to age and an undiagnosed disease. His advisors and sycophants close ranks to hide his disabilities from the public. As his condition worsens he is often trundled off to various governmental or private estates, lodges and other venues, publicly "to rest" and privately to be treated for symptoms of the malady by practitioners sometimes accused of quackery. His family, sometimes suspected of scheming against him, swirls about performing their usual daily routines and when asked about his condition asserts that nothing is amiss. At times he is incommunicado; at other, more lucid times he is presented as the spokesman of the nation, making public pronouncements on issues of the day under close watch of government officials lest he make false, misleading or outright dangerous statements that might lead to civil unrest or even to war.

No, not that head of state! I refer, of course, to the theme of "The Madness of King George III," by Alan Bennett, the book (1992), play and movie (1994). (Slight variations in title.) All parallel scenarios are purely coincidental.

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