Jul 16, 2009

Kind of Depressing Article


Victor Davis Hanson writes an article about how presidents just aren't what they used to be. It ends on a thoroughly depressing note. His basic argument is that presidents in the first half of the 1900's had less on their plates, had a kinder (or at least less intrusive) media, and were expected to accomplish less. They also came from different, more humble (or in some way more 'real'), backgrounds, though his argument runs aground when you consider the plush Roosevelt upbringing.

The Five Good Emperors, he decides, is an appropriate analogy for the Roosevelt-Eisenhower-Truman continuum. Now, he contends, we are in an age of Commodus. I don't particularly like this, since it assumes that we will someday see the book written, in the spirit of Edward Gibbon, entitled The Decline and Fall of the United States of America. Perhaps we are in the age of Caligula, Claudius, and Nero: still on the rise, though with some significant setbacks. Or, more likely, America's history is and will not be analogous to that of the Roman Empire.

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