Inexperienced, unqualified, treacherous, and incompetent, Barack Obama might perform an impossible Herculean task: Make George W. Bush not be the “Worst President Ever”. “Worst President Ever” is a moniker with a tag that says “temporarily occupied – reserved for Barack Obama”.
It is almost as if George W. Bush planned it all. There are Hollywood agent strategies for making yourself look “pretty” by surrounding yourself with “ugly” people or making yourself appear thinner by surrounding yourself with very large people. There are even precedents to make your political legacy better by having someone much worse than you follow your administration.
Yesterday, the Ides of March, is remembered in history as the date of the assasination of Julius Caesar. For today’s History Is A Teacher moment however, we remember March 16, 37 AD and the death of The Emperor Tiberius.
Tiberius, the George W. Bush of our narrative, sort of fell into the job of Roman Emperor. Tiberius, like George W. Bush was not really interested in governing nor in “hard work”. Like George W. Bush, Tiberius was detached and “intellectually incurious”. Tiberius was quite a mess as Emperor (like George W.) and the rule of Tiberius was a disaster (like George W. Bush). Eventually Tiberius exiled himself to the Isle of Capri and a life of sensual pleasures. Tiberius left the Empire in charge to the Cheneyesqe Praetorian Lucius Aelius Sejanus.
There was a reign of terror near the end of Tiberius’ rule, but that is not particularly relevant to our narrative even with its “national security” echoes of George W. Suffice to say Tiberius was widely hailed as “Worst Emperor Ever”.
When the reign of Tiberius ended on March 16, 37 A.D. the populace of Rome was happy. Tiberius was cremated without honors and grew as an object of derision. The Romans loved the successor to Tiberius which increased the derision and contempt for the dead former Emperor.
Tiberius knew he was the “Worst Emperor Ever” but he had a plan to make himself look good: make his successor so bad that the epithet “Worst Emperor Ever” would be handed over to the new guy.
At first the new guy, the new Emperor, was loved by the people and hailed as a savior (especially by himself). Eventually the Tiberius legacy scheme succeeded beyond expectation.
The Emperor inaugurated after Tiberius was none other than Caligula. Caligula, who thought himself a Messiah. Caligula eventually relieved Tiberius of the moniker “Worst Emperor Ever”.
From “I, Claudius: Reign of Terror (Episode 7)” (1976):
Tiberius: I shall make you my successor, Gaius Caligula. I have decided. You will stay here with me. Rome deserves you. I will nurse you like a viper in her bosom.
Caligula: Is that a joke, uncle?
Tiberius: Not yet, but it will be.
* * * * *
As our modern day Caligula, Obama backstabs Americans, particularly the middle class, on healthcare (we’ll have a lot more on this in subsequent articles), and returns to fundraising, Americans are beginning to sense that something is wrong with Mess-iah.
Yes, it’s early, but an eerily familiar feeling is spreading across party lines and seeping into the national conversation. It’s a nagging doubt about the competency of the White House.
It was during George W. Bush’s second term that the I-word – incompetence – became a routine broadside against him. The Democratic frenzy of Bush-bashing had not spent itself when a larger critique emerged, one not confined by partisan boundaries. [snip]
Which brings us to the heart of the matter: the doubts about Obama himself. His famous eloquence is wearing thin through daily exposure and because his actions are often disconnected from his words. His lack of administrative experience is showing.
His promises and policies contradict each other often enough that evidence of hypocrisy is ceasing to be news.
Even the drone of Washington’s conventional “wisdom” David Broder realizes that the bloom is off the Obama:
Among those who follow government closely, there has been an unmistakable change in tone in the last few weeks. These are not little Limbaughs hoping that Obama fails. They are politicians and journalists measuring him with the same skeptical eye they apply to everyone else. [snip]
Congress has taken note of the way Obama backed down from his anti-earmark stance, a clear signal that he is leery of any showdown with the lawmakers. Despite his popularity, Obama is not an intimidating figure and so he can expect to be tested time and again.
Meantime, on the main challenge — fixing the economy — the criticism has begun to infect the mainstream media, as well as the conservative wing. I was struck last week to read heartfelt pleas to Obama from David Ignatius of The Washington Post and David Brooks of The New York Times to get his priorities straight and concentrate on the crucial task of rescuing banking, credit, housing and jobs.
These are people who deeply admire and respect Obama and wish him nothing but success. But, like some thoughtful congressional Democrats with whom I have spoken, they worry that he has bitten off more than he can chew.
Criticism of this kind is not an augury of failure. But it does signal that the honeymoon is over.
David Broder senses anxiety among the establishment but he is wrong to say that Obama is getting anything but honeymoon treatment from Big Media and Dimocrats. Broder senses anxiety, but what is it really? – Anger.
The anger is manifest in the many protest “tea parties” thousands of Americans participate in around the nation.
Americans are angry about the probably unconstitutional “stimulus” scam and refuse to remain silent.
Caligula Obama and his Dimocrats should be worried that Americans are catching on to the flim-flams and the scams:
“Never underestimate the capacity of angry populism in times of economic stress,” said Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and labor secretary under President Bill Clinton. [snip]
The disclosure that A.I.G., which has received $170 billion in government assistance to remain afloat and avert a cascade of failures in the financial system, is paying bonuses to its executives is the latest in a series of episodes that Mr. Obama’s aides said seemed to be feeding a resurgence of public anger. [snip]
For all his political skills and his capturing of the nation’s desire for change in the 2008 election, Mr. Obama, a product of Harvard Law School who calls upscale Hyde Park in Chicago home, has shown little inclination to strike a more populist tone. The danger, aides said, is that if he were to become identified as an advocate for the banks and Wall Street, people could take out their anger on him.
“The change now is you have a free-floating economic anxiety that has expressed itself in a kind of lashing out at those being bailed out and people who are bailing out,” Michael Kazin, a professor at Georgetown University who has written extensively on populism. “There’s not really a sense of what the solution is.”
“I do think there’s a potential for a ‘damn everybody in power’ kind of sentiment,” Mr. Kazin said.
The “tea parties” will continue to grow as Spring returns with many already scheduled.
Obama thought small town Americans were “bitter” last year. Wait till bitter turns sour in 2009.
George W. Bush, asleep in Texas, is smiling and audaciously dreaming of Tiberius and Caligula.