Fair warning: This article about American foreign policy and potential acts of war contains spoilers for the fantasy HBO TV show Game of Thrones, because we live in the bleakest and most hellish political timeline imaginable.
Yesterday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — like an idiot — compared President Donald Trump to one of the most famous TV villains in American history to somehow justify a potential American attack on Iran. After running for nearly a decade, Game of Thrones finally ended last Sunday — after longtime main character Daenerys Targaryen became too power-hungry, used a dragon to melt a city of millions of innocent people, gave a Hitler-like speech to a giant crowd of soldiers, and was then murdered by her own allies because she was essentially threatening to take over the whole world. Daenerys' entire plot line was a warning about the dangers of unchecked power. Fans now refer to her as the Mad Queen. Emilia Clarke, the actress who portrays Daenerys, told Variety this week that she prepared for her grand speech in the final episode by watching videos of Adolf Hitler.
So Rubio likened Trump to that character to justify a potential war or aerial bombardment, with no apparent idea how bad he's making the president sound.
“It’s a very simple equation. If Iran doesn’t attack, there won’t be any problem. If Iran attacks, the president is going to go ‘dracarys’ on them," Rubio said yesterday, according to the New York Times.
For the uninitiated, Daenerys uses the command "dracarys" to order her dragon to melt things — or people — with fire. The last time America heard her use the word, she was literally burning screaming children into ash as her own allies looked upon her with abject horror. The many people who don't want America to attack Iran say it would be a bloodbath that could slaughter millions and create countless refugees — and here's Rubio invoking a fictional character who did exactly that, with seemingly no sense of self-awareness.
Rubio's staffers don't seem to get how bad the reference is, either. Justine Sanders, one of the senator's spokespeople, tweeted out the quote today and wrote that her "(almost) 48-year-old boss is more 'hip' than me." She apparently didn't notice the screenshot she posted from Politico ragged on Rubio for relating the president to a character who "decided to destroy an entire city in the final season, including unarmed women and children."
My (almost) 48 year old boss is more “hip” than me... The evidence —>— Justine Sanders (@JustineAnnSand) May 22, 2019
“If Iran attack’s, the President is going to go dracarys on them.” pic.twitter.com/upY3hyG7UM
There are a few possible scenarios as to how this occurred — all either extremely depressing or darkly hilarious. Most obviously: Rubio might be a fan of the show but just completely missed that it's a series about the horrors of war written by a man who protested the U.S. invasion of Vietnam. Alternately, one of Rubio's staffers made the same mistake and told him to say "dracarys" to sound relevant. In the funniest potential explanation, one of his kids watches the show but hates him and told him to reference Thrones as some sort of prank.
(For Thrones nerds who plan to chime in and complain that the show's final few seasons were poorly written, that Daenerys's plot line was more nuanced than we're making it sound, or that such-and-such is different in the books — that's not the point here. Go yell on Reddit. Rubio clearly doesn't care about the context in this case and neither should you.)
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Rubio isn't the only person who's been worryingly linked to Daenerys Targaryen: In 2016, scores of Hillary Clinton fans shared photoshopped images of Clinton's face on Daenerys' body. More recently, Massachusetts Sen. and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren wrote an essay about Game of Thrones for New York magazine in which she said, "Daenerys ‘Stormborn’ Targaryen has been my favorite from the first moment she walked through fire." But importantly, Warren wrote that column before Daenerys killed all those blameless people — and Warren this week said she no longer likes the character. Rubio seems to be the only politician bringing up Daenerys after her large-scale atrocities.
Sadly, this is not Rubio's first astoundingly bad pop culture or historical reference. In February, he quoted Cardi B's song "Money" as part of his escalating rhetoric against Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro:
Report: Gazprombank freezes accounts of Venezuela's PDVSA.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 18, 2019
How do you say “All I really wanna see is the Money” in Russian? https://t.co/NoXSgBfjrm
That same month, Rubio also posted photos of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi being murdered by a mob as some sort of threat to Maduro, despite the fact that America's 2011 meddling in Libya led to the complete collapse of the country. Open-air slave markets exist in Libya now, thanks to us. Rubio again didn't seem to see the problem with his allusion.