George Tiberius Bush

September 15, 2008

Instead of reading Thomas Friedman, maybe our pundits should be studying the “Reign of Terror” episode of the BBC series I, Claudius:

It can be useful to look at what happened to the succession of power once ancient Rome made the transition from republic to empire under Julius Caesar. I think of it as the Tiberius Gambit. Each emperor did his best to ensure that the one who followed him could never rival his achievements. And it was a short step indeed for Tiberius to inflict the egregious Caligula on the empire, secure in the knowledge that he would make the populace yearn for the comparatively golden days of his own rule. So Augustus gave us Tiberius, Tiberius gave us Caligula and the accidental Claudius gave us Nero. Nero almost destroyed the Roman economy by his personal greed and burned part of Rome intending, perhaps, to remove the blight of a quarter congested with the urban poor. When it got way out of hand and he began to feel universal public opprobrium, he blamed it on a fringe group of alien terrorists, the early Christians.

So Bush would give us McCain and McCain would give us Palin and Palin will ignite the fire and fiddle while the planet burns. The joke is on us. Hail!

Now I can’t get past remembering the scene in which Tiberius (George Baker) grabs Caligula (John Hurt) and cries, “Rome deserves you! I will nurse you like a viper at her bosom!”

Thanks a whole heap, Digby.


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