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The Greatest American Nero

June 6th, 2014 - 7:48 am

NERO

I can’t remember where I read this idea, but some historian once argued that Rome’s problem was that its first two emperors — Augustus and Tiberius — were largely competent. They both brought order and security to Rome, and if each man had also helped cause some of the previous disorder and insecurity… well, that’s just how it goes. But the fact remains that for the average citizen, life got better under the caesars than it had been under the Senate. And between them, Augustus and Tiberius ruled for over 60 years — and they were 60 pretty darn good years, too.

But then Tiberius died (or was possibility murdered) and followed in fairly quick succession by a notable list of sickos, losers, and do-nothings, by the names of Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. By that point though, Rome was an empire and there was no going back to the Republic.

These are my happy thoughts upon reading this report:

With President Obama’s approval rating still deep underwater, a new survey from Fox News finds that Americans generally think George W. Bush ran a more “competent” administration. In the survey, a 48 percent plurality said Bush’s White House was more competent, while 42 percent picked Obama’s.

The Imperial Presidency might have been a long time in the making, but once established it didn’t take us any 60 years to find our first Nero. At least, I don’t think Obama is a Caligula and he doesn’t seem nearly witless enough to be a Claudius, either. So Nero it is. Obama fiddles while the world burns, but we might still have time to win us back a Republic.

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Top Rated Comments   
Maybe, VP.

But he throws like Cleopatra.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (7)
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I note more recent historians show Claudius was actually a dynamic, capable leader, but underestimated due to his physical and social awkardness. Maybe one could go so far as to call him "misunderestimated." Therefore, history repeats itself: Flashy Nero followed awkward Caudius; Obama, GWB. Perhaps someday archaeologists will unearth a Nero era mosaic of Claudius with the motto "Te desideras nunc?" (rough translation of "Miss me yet?").
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
But the Republic that we are trying to win back currently has a 42% population that looks at the last five years and says that the Obama administration is more competent than his predecessor. That is not an ideology question. I do not have to like the Dallas Cowboys (ugh) to acknowledge when they play stellar football. Thus, 42% of us apparently really do look at this carnage and say "Yeah, great job!"

As has been said: We can survive eight years of Obama. Can we survive and re-build that republic with an electorate that voted for him twice?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry to disagree, but I don't think the USA is so lucky. BJ Clinton isn't a fan of the republic; he's your analogue to Tiberias, nasty sick man who was mostly competent as President. The Shrubs were nice enough people, but neither was particularly competent, and I don't think the nation could survive eight years of She Who Must Not Be Named.

I hope I'm wrong. But in accordance with Micky Kaus' "Fieler Faster" hypothesis, what took 60 years in the first century AD can certainly be accomplished in 6 years now. I think we're toast.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Must thank our lucky stars for a very incompetent Nerobama, else we would be in much deeper doodoo.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment

It will be interesting, in the 2014 and 2016 elections, to see if the people can still overrule the Praetorian government employee unions. The likely bet is that the unions win, and then they raid private pensions and IRA/401k accounts to pay for government employee pensions.

That will delay the debt crisis by 15 years or so, and then the real fun starts.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
And I doubt HBO could - in the happy event - match Nero Last Words.

I.e. "What an artist the world looses in me"

For HBO I might suggest: "What an incompetent jerk the United States looses in me". I'll be happy to translate that into Good Ciceroian Latin for the Final Teleprompt.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe, VP.

But he throws like Cleopatra.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
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