The Greatest American 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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