Wednesday, February 01, 2006

lessons from rome

If last night's state of the union got you down, you can always read Gore Vidal's instead.

I had a piece on the internet some of you may have seen a few days ago, and there's a story about Tiberius, who’s one of my favorite Roman emperors. He's had a very bad press, because the wrong people perhaps have written history. But when he became emperor, the Senate of Rome sent him congratulations with the comment, “Any law that you want us to pass, we shall do so automatically.” And he sent a message back. He said, “This is outrageous! Suppose I go mad. Suppose I don't know what I'm doing. Suppose I'm dead and somebody is pretending to be me. Never do that! Never accept something like preemptive war,” which luckily the Senate did not propose preemptive wars against places they didn't like. But Mr. Bush has done that.

So this is a sort of Tiberius time without, basically, a good emperor, and he was a good emperor in the sense that he sent back this legislation, which was to confirm anything he wanted to have done automatically. And they sent it back to him again. And then he said, “How eager you are to be slaves,” and washed his hands of the Senate and went to live in Capri, a much wiser choice, just as we can send this kid back to Crawford, Texas, where he'll be very, very happy cutting bushes of the leafy variety.