"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

W and Thucydides

Having read Hugh Hewitt's great interviews with Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College for some time, I recently picked up Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War.   It's great stuff, filled with political insight and insight into the human beings who act for better and (more often) worse in the political sphere.   And, at least the 1874 translation I'm reading by Richard Crawley, is great.   Military experience is "experience learned in the school of danger."   The Athenians are "addicted to innovation."   Thucydides reminds us of "the vast influence of accident in war," and that, "as it continues, it generally becomes an affair of changes from which neither of us is exempt, and whose event we must risk in the dark."   In his great recounting of Pericles' funeral oration, he describes the fallen Athenians as men, "choosing to die resisting, rather than to live submitting," who "fled only from dishonour, but met danger face to face."  

Here's another that jumped out at me.   Thucydides writes, "Ordinary men usually manage public affairs better than their more gifted fellows."

I thought of George W. Bush when I read this.   I think history will be kind to him, certainly kinder than his contemporaries have been.

His Presidential Library opens this week.   I expect his poll numbers to keep climbing as people revisit his Presidency and contrast it with what came before (Clinton) and what came after (Obama).

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