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Start working on your stoicism

By Owen Paine on Wednesday June 11, 2008 02:40 PM

Are we ready for a good emperor, maybe a great one, a philosopher emperor -- Baracus Aurelius?

My quondam companion, the dearly departed J Alva Scruggs, once wrote me on the subject of philosopher emperors. It thundered and it flashed, it filled the page with deep insight, and I was in awe and dazzled for days after.

I've misplaced it, and its perfected phrasing may be lost for all time, but I remember he was... agin' 'em.

There are no good emperors. They all turn into Nosferatu once the door's shut -- it goes with the office.

* * *

Here's another man from Illinois who struck a decidedly Aurelian pose while running for emperor of the open-market world. Similarly, he was up against a man of military distinction.

The purple prose egghead against the knuckle-mouthed general. Of course the egghead lost in a landslide. And Ike wasn't even a war hero like Johnny. Ike wasn't shot down on a daring raid into enemy territory. Ike wasn't tortured and twisted by his enemies. Nope, Ike stayed back and made his enemies surrender.

* * *

Old Marcus is supposed to have written his rather smug and self-congratulatory Meditations during short intervals of leisure from his day job, which was mostly spent on the battlefield, trying to shore up the Empire against "barbarians" in the East. The Romans seem to have used the word "barbarian" much the same way we use "terrorist", as a portmanteau term for anybody who doesn't enjoy our benign and civilized rule.

Comments (2)

plato's cave:

What do you mean " dearly departed"? I hope you mean just a temporary change of address.

The closest we came to a philosopher king might have been Jimmy Carter, but he revealed his clay feet almost immediately, as he caved in to the nuclear industry, and not long after realized that Nicaragua was in fact an intolerable threat to our security.

Ike actually was a war hero, in that he won the biggest war we were ever involved in. Put him up against General Wastemoreland, Wesley Clark or D. Rumsfeld and you'll see what I mean.

Before we put Obama on the level of philosopher king, we have to see if he can even reach the courtly panache of JFK.


"The courtly panache of JFK"? Good Heavens, Comrade Cave! Revisit the video archive. I think you'll be startled at how vulgar, brittle, and glaringly phoney Camelot's airs and graces were. If Obama and JFK could somehow appear on stage or onscreen together, JFK's trying-too-hard quality would be very evident.

I say this as no admirer of Obama, of course. But his personal gifts are undoubtedly considerable, and he isn't crippled by that arriviste social ambition and pinky-in-the-air affectation that infected the Kennedys like an especially virulent strain of S. Aureus.

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