The following rewrite of one of Hans Christian Andersen’s best-loved tales is presented with apologies to the author, who did nothing to deserve it:

So off went the Emperor under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

Whereupon the child was subpoenaed by House investigators trying to decide whether the Emperor should be impeached for appearing butt naked in public. The Democrats questioned him first. Sir Adam of the House Schiff said, “Was the Emperor truly unclothed?”

“Yes,” the boy said.

“You’re telling us you saw the royal rear end?”

“All of it, yes.”

“Well,” said Sir Adam, “that’s good enough for me. I’d like to thank you for your service.” He turned to his colleagues. “Who’s up for lunch?”

But the Republicans, who had previously praised the Emperor as “a genius” and the chosen one of God, were less deferential. Sir Mark of the House Meadows said, “Were you aware, son, that the Emperor had been approached by two tailors who promised to make him a suit of the finest fabric ever known?”

“No, sir,” said the boy.

“And did you further know the tailors told the Emperor that this special fabric was of such a quality that only highly intelligent people could perceive it?”

“No, sir,” said the boy.

“Aha! Well, you probably also didn’t know that the Emperor, being a highly intelligent person himself, resolved to trap the swindlers by pretending to believe them. The fact is, he never even paid them for their services. In other words,” said Meadows, pounding the table, “there was no quid pro clothes!”

“But he was naked,” insisted the boy.

Viscount Devin of the California Nunes was next. For a full minute, he regarded his notes with a perplexed expression until an aide turned them right side up. Then he said, “How far were you standing from the Emperor?”

“About 15 feet,” said the boy.

“So you never actually touched the Emperor, did you?”

“No.”

“Ever met him before?”

“No, but I don’t – ”

“You stood a mile from him, you never touched him, never even met him, so on what basis do you make this scandalous accusation? Can you say for a fact that he wasn’t wearing special magical clothes and you were just too dumb to see them?”

The boy looked helplessly about, as if wondering how something so simple was not being understood. “But he was naked,” he said, enunciating each word as carefully as he could.

Then Sir Adam of the House Schiff read a tweet that had just come in from the Emperor. “My clothes were perfect,” it said. “I have the best clothes and anyone who can’t see that is human scum.” Sir Adam offered the boy a chance to respond. The boy just shook his head miserably.

Finally, Jim the Duke of Jordan took his turn. He stared at the boy. All at once, he began to growl. Then he barked. He barked and kept on barking – a harsh, angry sound. Jim’s handlers led him out to the hallway where the jester Tucker Carlson of Ye Olde Fox “News” was waiting.

“How do you think it went?” asked Carlson.

Jim was still barking. Carlson nodded, squinting like he always did when he wanted to appear thoughtful. “Good point,” he said. “That makes sense to me.”

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for The Miami Herald. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]


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