Hail Caesar!

October 3, 2010 at 2:46 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A while back, I read a few postings that propounded President Obama is frustrated & bored with the presidency. White House insiders say the day-to-day tasks of governing fill him with ennui and he perks-up only when focusing on sports or campaigning or hob-nobbing with celebrities.

Yep, it shows.

Here, definitely, is a disinterested worker who finds his job tedious to the point of incompetence. I have seen it many times. The Prez is the kind of place-holder who does just enough and does it just well-enough to barely get by while reserving his real attention for playing-around on the job. In the average American workplace, Barry would be the guy who spends most of his time running the office sports betting pool, ducking-out early, & talking about golf. I once had a boss like Obama: an intelligent physicist whose workdays were filled with working on his antique clock collection, reading joke-books to his subordinates, & tracking his investments. Meanwhile, his entire department was in chaos because he spent virtually no brain-power on managing. Eventually, he was moved-aside where he could play without harming the organization.

But I called this essay, “Hail Caesar!” And that is because there is an historic personage who puts me in mind of our Commander-in-Chief: Emperor Nero, ruler of the Roman Empire 54 to 68 A.D.

In what way does Obama’s character resemble Nero’s? Well, Nero, who assumed office at the age of 16 had little interest in running the vast empire… he left that to his subordinates. Instead, he saw himself as an artist and concentrated on his love for music, theater, & poetry. He regularly entertained Roman audiences by singing on stage & performing in classical Greek plays. He loved to be the center of attention and wallowed in the power of his office but dodged the actual work.

In the beginning, Nero’s subjects loved him but grew embittered as he ignored problems such as famines in favor of having fun. In 64 A.D. 70% of the city of Rome burned to the ground. At first, Nero refused to return to help during the catastrophe because he & his entourage were vacationing at the seashore. It is a myth that Nero played his violin while Rome burned; the fiddle wasn’t invented until the 1700’s. But the myth probably got its start from Nero spending his time immediately after the fire plucking his lyre (a type of harp) and composing a song about the tragedy. Some of Nero’s enemies spread rumors that the by now-unpopular Emperor had set the city afire. Nero distracted the public’s attention by blaming the fire on followers of the new Christian religion. He held huge gala mass executions of Christians accompanied by the Emperor, dressed as the god Apollo, driving a chariot through the streets.

In 67 A.D., near the end of his reign he undertook a year-long tour of Greece where he entered singing competitions & chariot races. To feed Nero’s deluded ego, his aides filled the audiences with paid applauders. His weary subjects felt betrayed by negligence. He returned home to be overthrown (& commit suicide).

Am I the only one who can see echoes of Nero in our president? Faced with our economic collapse, our corrupt & creaking system that is grinding people around the world to bits, and an exploitative ruling class that thinks only of enriching itself, Obama seems disinterested in tackling the problems. He is distant & disengaged & his eyes glaze-over. But his eyes brighten during vacations, fluffy tv talk-show appearances, & events with Hollywood stars. I honestly think he was more interested & involved in the recent Oval Office redecorating than he was in creating the odious healthcare “reform” legislation.

Not that Barack Obama would be alone in evoking comparisons with the oppressive rulers of the latter-day Roman Empire. In fact, our entire aristocratic class has assumed the mantle of the decadent monsters of old Rome. Whereas Nero had much competition for the title, he is widely considered worst emperor in Roman history. I believe future historians will examine deserving competitors such as both Bushes, Buchanan, & Grant but they will settle on Obama as the worst president in American history.

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