When reading about the Julio-Claudian dynasty, I’m always struck by the juxtaposition of Nero and Augustus. Nero seems to have hated the very idea of Rome and everything associated with it. Every description of his time as emperor brings to mind someone obsessed with debasing everything around him, including his own position. Shocking the sensibilities of the nobles and offending the people appears to be all that mattered to him.
Augustus, it seems to me, loved the idea of Rome. For instance, he carried on many of the Republican traditions, despite the fact he was the emperor. There was certainly a political motive to pretending the old system was still in place, but he had to have a fair amount of respect for the idea of Rome to see the value in maintaining the customs. Of course, Suetonius claims he said, “I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.” That’s the mind of man in love with his city and what it represents.
I’m surely over simplifying, but this is not a post about Rome. I just find Roman history a great starting place when trying to noodle through events of today. One thousand years of history provides a lot of useful examples and lessons. Add in some of the great historians and chroniclers and you get a great source of material for a blog post by a random idiot.
Anyway, I was thinking about that when reading this the other day.
Margaret Thatcher famously said that her greatest success as a politician was the rise of Tony Blair to lead a party he called New Labour: “We forced our opponents to change their minds.” As yet, Barack Obama can make no similar boast. Just the opposite: He radicalized his Republican opponents, and empowered most those who agreed with him least. With the presidential campaign of Jeb Bush, Obama can finally glimpse Thatcher-style success. Here, at last, is an opponent in his own image.
What can the son and brother of a president, grandson of a senator, and great grandson of the founder of the Walker Cup have in common with the son of a failed Kenyan politician? Look beyond the biography to the psychology.
The first part is nonsense on stilts, but this is David Frum and most of what he says is nonsense. He does have solid connections to the neo-conservatives so it is often worth weeding through the nonsense to learn what’s going on with the Cult of Leo Strauss. The last bit is what got my attention. Obama is a bitter weirdo whose presidency looks like a revenge fantasy from someone with a deep antipathy for America. Making this comparison to Jeb Bush is no small thing.
This bit he quotes from Bush is stunning to me:
I’m bicultural—maybe that’s more important than bilingual. For those who have those kinds of marriages, appreciating the culture of your spouse is the most powerful part of the relationship. Being able to share that culture and live in it has been one of the great joys of my life. We chose Miami to live because it is a bicultural city. It’s as American as any, but it has a flair to it that is related to this bicultural feeling. I wanted my children to grow up in a bicultural way.
You cannot be bicultural. To quote my ancestors, a man who chases two rabbits catches none. You can be an American with an appreciation of or even a fondness for another culture. You can be a Mexican with an appreciation of America. On the other hand, you can be an American who moves to another land and adopts the culture of that land, just as millions of Mexicans have adopted American culture. You cannot be on both sides of the fence. Claims as such suggest to me that Jeb Bush really does not like America all that much.
As Jeb Bush himself notes, there is a Bush family tradition of moving away from the culture into which one is born, to plunge into another. George H.W. Bush, born to a family of Northeastern grandees, reinvented himself as Sunbelt conservative. George W. Bush, born in New Haven, Connecticut, was the only member of the next generation of Bush brothers not born in Texas, and yet became the most Texan of them all. Jeb Bush moved away first from Texas, and then from his family’s patrician identity as White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.
By itself, this can be easily seen as a tick of successful families. The sons want to distinguish themselves from the father so they go another way. It’s one thing for one son to embrace the earthy side of the family. It is quite another for the other son to go so far as to embrace another country’s culture entirely.
Bush seems to have something more in mind than just the familiar (if overstated) claim that immigration can counter the aging of the population. He seems to think that there is some quality in the immigrants themselves that is more enterprising—more dynamic to use his favorite term—than native-born Americans. This is not only a positive judgment on the immigrants themselves. It is also a negative judgment on native-born Americans.
I used to wonder how anyone could think it wise to put a guy like Obama in the White House. You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning and hitting the lottery on the same day than meeting a man with Obama’s bio. He is the very definition of un-American. At least his supporters could claim he embraced America and loved his countryman. It’s an implausible claim, but not an impossible one.
Jeb Bush hates his country and his countrymen. That’s clear in all of his utterances. Putting this man in the White House is akin to handing the purple to Nero, after knowing what Nero intended to do as emperor. At least the Romans had the fall back policy of assassinating their intolerable leaders. We have to hope there’s a Sirhan Sirhan out there and he is able to slip past the Praetorian Guard. That’s not much of a fall back plan.
It’s also no way for a sane people to manage their affairs. I’m not prone to doomsday thoughts, but this may be the critical moment in the history of the nation. If this self-loathing lunatic is put in the White House, the country is finished. Even if the people rise up and stymie this guy’s drive to gut the country, the consequences of that will be almost as bad. The senate murdering Julius Caesar may have stopped Julius Caesar, but it also put an end to the Republic.
Nero Bush must be stopped.