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Hail, Caesar/Obama!

No, such praise is not sarcasm from a birther, Teapartier, or other such anti-intellectual dregs--it comes from the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman.  (See my earlier post on Mr. Broadway Bombast.)  Scott at Powerline quotes his boast: 

This is the first president that actually writes his own books since Teddy Roosevelt and arguably the first to write them really well since Lincoln. If you accept the premise, and I do, that the United States is the most powerful country in the world, then Barack Obama is the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar. That has to be good for American artists.

Scott deftly dispatches this error-plagued nonsense.  I would add:  In praising Bacon, Locke, and Newton as his greatest heroes, Thomas Jefferson claimed that his rival Alexander Hamilton had named Julius Caesar as his.  This attribution was intended to underline Hamilton's reputation as a "monocrat"--no friend of the principles of 1776.  Praises of Caesar and of Mao, obeisance to dictators, despots, and Nobel committees, assaults on an aggressive press-- what more does this Administration need to do to separate itself from the principles of 1776?

Categories > Presidency

Discussions - 15 Comments

I thought that both Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge wrote their own books. Am I wrong?

You're right, of course. Also, Dwight Eisenhower wrote CRUSADE IN EUROPE before becoming president.

Peter--Wilson and Coolidge didn't compare to Caesar in power! Hitler also wrote a book, but let's leave such comparisons off the table, for the time being.

Marcus Aurelius. Ruler of a greater empire than Casar, more lasting value to his work.

If you accept the premise.

Caesar, too.

Marcus Aurelius--persecuted Christians too.

Well, I think they eventually got their own back, as a class. Not that it helped anybody at the time.

Speaking of Caesar and Obama, I came across this article today in WaPo. Interesting stuff.

She proposes forcing more czars to testify before Congress, but the chairman offered a somewhat gentler solution. "I will ask the witnesses if there isn't some more American title that we could use instead of 'czar,' " he announced, calling the term "ethnically inappropriate" and a bit too "autocratic."

Recognizing a chance for shtick, Lieberman described a scene from "Fiddler on the Roof" when one of the townsfolk asks the rabbi if there is a prayer for the czar. "The rabbi answers, 'Yes, my son, there is. It is: God bless and keep the czar -- far away from us.' May I paraphrase that prayer this morning: God bless and keep the title 'czar' forevermore away from the American government. I'm going to try to do my best not to use the word 'czar' in this regard again."

Collins was not impressed. "I will continue to call them czars," she informed him.

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) had a solution, based on his service in the Nixon administration. "The White House is a court, the president is the king, the White House staffers are courtiers," he said, "and it is the century-long duty of every courtier to keep everybody else from having access to the king."

Lieberman mulled over this substitution of "courtier" for "czar." "That actually describes more appropriately the powers," the chairman said. "But it's not quite American enough."

I am semi confused by this because I though that conservatives were fans of Caesar and Alexander the Great. I agree with Jefferson. The spirit of inherint liberty does not mesh with those who sought to conquer others. Mao, Stalin, Hitler those seem to me to be the heirs of the Caesars or even the monarchs of Europe. But, Obama likes Caesar, or at least is compared to him by his admirers. Its funny that he was compared to Lincoln just a few months ago, mabye we need to compare Lincoln to Caesar.

Thanks, ROB,
Conservatives are with Brutus and Alexander's teacher.

I am by no means saying the comparison is correct, but John Wilkes Booth certainly compared Lincoln to Julius Caesar.

Interestingly enough, Booth's father's name was Junius Brutus Booth. One of is brothers was named Junius Brutus Booth, Jr. The only play that he and both of his brothers ever appeared in together was Julius Caesar, where he play Marc Antony, Edwin Booth played Brutus, and Junius, Jr. played Cassius. Just thought that was an interesting tidbit of information to share.

Of course, that line about Hamilton praising Caesar is almost certainly apocryphal and is likely nothing more than a vile Jeffersonian slander towards a better and greater man. See Chernow p. 397.

Yes, john knox, that's why I hedged the way I put it--but the use of Caesar was the important point.

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