Monday, November 13, 2006

Sullivan: Pater Et Filius

A reader to Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish sees an analogy to the tortured relationship between Bush father and son Sullivan describe in this column:

With all the talk of the Bush family drama, I’m reminded of the exchange between Commodus and Marcus Aurelius in the movie Gladiator:

Commodus [43]: You wrote to me once, listing the four chief virtues - Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. As I read the list, I knew I had none of them. But I have other virtues, father. Ambition, that can be a virtue when it drives us to excel. Resourcefulness. Courage. Perhaps not on the battlefield, but there are many forms of courage. Devotion, to my family, to you. But none of my virtues were on your list. Even then, it was as if you didn't want me for your son.

Marcus Aurelius [41]: Oh, Commodus, you go too far.

Commodus: I searched the faces of the gods for ways to please you, to make you proud. One kind word, one full hug while you pressed me to your chest and held me tight, would've been like the sun on my heart for a thousand years. What is in me that you hate so much?

Marcus Aurelius: Shh, Commodus.

Commodus: All I've ever wanted was to live up to you. Caesar. Father.

After that, in the movie, Commodus kills Marcus Aurelius. In real life, mercifully, W just calls up James Baker.

LSB: Hmmm, this dialogue is an eerie reflection of what I imagine is the complicated relationship between Bush 41 and Bush 43. It was clear to anyone paying attention that the overthrow of Saddam was simply 43’s pathetic attempt to get 41’s attention and respect. “Look at me, look at me! I’ll get him, daddy, I’ll get him.” Let’s face it, 43 was a mediocre student (thank heavens for family connections and university contributions), a druggie (who skipped out on his military service commitment rather than have his drug habit revealed), a boozer (not to worry, the DUI records were purged), and a failed businessman several times over (see Harken Energy scandal). Bush 41 hadn’t completed the job, Saddam was thumbing his nose at the US and the UN, and removing Saddam would be a way for 43 to finally earn 41’s respect. That intelligence reports would be shaped to justify the ouster of Saddam – 41’s unfinished business – is why the Downing Street Memo is significant. But just as “Poppy” had to rescue this son many times before (i.e., setting him up with Republican contributors who owned the Texas Rangers was just the most recent example), 43 is once again stepping in to clean up his son’s mess. Let’s hope that with some – ANY! – oversight the Dems can keep 43 from doing too much more harm. [FYI: 'Pater Et Filius' is Latin for 'Father And Son.' Andrew Sullivan is simply more erudite than I am, but I appreciate his intelligence.]

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