Friday, July 8, 2011

Raising A World Leader -- A How-to Manual

A while back FLG proffered a theory that most American Presidents had an absent or abusive father. The release of a new book about Obama's father reminded FLG of this theory.

But if you look at other great leaders in history, FLG thinks this broadly holds. Augustus' father died when he was young. FLG isn't quite sure, but believes Julius Caesar's father suddenly died when Caesar was young as well. Most near and dear to FLG's heart, Alexander had a tumultuous relationship with Phillip who then died when Alexander was 19.

Okay, FLG, what is your point? Glad you asked.

FLG's theory is that the relationship with the father, for whatever pop psychology reason you want to attribute, makes them extremely ambitious to live up to their father's expectations or exceed their father's accomplishments or to prove their father wrong, take your pick.

Okay, great FLG. Still, what's your point? Again, glad you asked.

Having this ambition isn't enough. They need to have ambition, but also opportunity.

So, Alexander hated Phillip. Perhaps was even involved in his murder, but then was also able to take advantage of the totally awesome army Phillip had built. Likewise, Octavian's father died when he was still a child, but eventually Julius takes him under his wing, even to the point of adoption, and provides opportunity.

Okay, where's the how-to manual?

Pretty simple. If you want your kid to be president, and assuming you don't want to die or be absent, then you need to totally mindfuck them. No matter how great they perform, it can't be enough. You can, maybe, for a second, show the slightest amount of pride, as a teaser, but the overall stance must be one of continual and profound disappointment. Really, really mindfuck them.

BUT THEN, you give them every opportunity that you can. Bribe their way into Harvard if you must. Make it happen. But all the while keep telling them they're bloody worthless.

But FLG, if you mindfuck your kid like this, aren't they going to be totally fucked up? Yes, yes they will. But that's the price of producing a leader.


The Ancient said...

A few weeks ago, I asked my g-nephew to explain his somewhat troubled relationship with the boy with whom he usually competes for top honors.

He said, "[Name] is like Pompey. He must always be the greatest. He can't stand the thought that someone else might be his equal. I, on the other hand, am content to be the equal of the greatest. Just as Julius Caesar was."

He's seventeen.

Anonymous said...

Have you suggested that he consider the values of a Mondoville education? I think I'd... I mean he'd benefit from the experience.

arethusa said...

What if you're raising a future world leader who's a girl? Same deal with the father, or do we need a Tiger Mother thing?

I'm really impressed by your g-nephew, TA.

FLG said...


I meant to mention girls. In general, I don't there have been that many women leaders over the years to draw a correlation.

The Maximum Leader said...

How about mothers and sons. Case in point Mary Washington and George Washington. I'd have to review some reading but I seem to remember that George was never successful in Mary's eyes. I recall reading a letter from Mary to George after George had been elected the 1st President. The jist of the letter was "You've skated by with good luck up to this point, but you can still screw this new job up and embarass me."

Withywindle said...

Ferdinand Bordewijk, Character; good novel, good movie.

TA: If you want a month named after you, I think you should adopt the lad now.

FLG said...

Maximum Leader:

It's a good point. Because an absent father means a outsized motherly influence, all things being equal. Olympias and Sara Delano do offer additional support for this methinks.

Does anybody know anything about Stanley Ann Dunham? Was she domineering?

FLG said...

Anything about Clinton's mother?

Oh, but I think the Kennedys offer opposing evidence. Joe Sr was an asshole, at least as I understand it, so I still thinks it's more about the father.

The Ancient said...

Clinton's mother doted on him. Clinton's father (step-father really) was a bum. Clinton's real father, well, that's a another topic altogether.

Obama's mother was also famously supportive of her son -- when she bothered to show up. But she was something of a ditz, with really bad taste in men.

Lincoln, who held his father in contempt (he didn't bother to attend the old man's funeral), might fit your pattern -- though Thomas Lincoln's ill-treatment of his son was part of no real design. ("No better than a slave," thought Abe, who fled at the earliest opportunity and never looked back.)

FLG said...

The Ancient:
"Thomas Lincoln's ill-treatment of his son was part of no real design."

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that the absent or abusive fathers of leaders at all did it as part of a design. The only presidential father that I think had a well-defined plan is Joe Kennedy.

Anonymous said...

"Anything about Clinton's mother?"

There sure is. Straight from the horse's mouth:

"Hillary Clinton, in her recent interview in the premier issue of Talk Magazine, claimed Bill Clinton was an 'abused child' who was traumatized by constant battles between his mother and grandmother. This fighting caused such emotional scars that Bill Clinton, caught in the middle and always feeling he had to please both women, now has sexual problems and needs to get help. Hillary compared Bill's sexual habits with the drinking of an alcoholic and likened the Oval Office affair to a relapse.
'He was so young, barely four, when he was scarred by abuse,' Hillary claimed. 'There was terrible conflict between his mother and grandmother. A psychologist once told me that for a boy, being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation. There is always a desire to please each one.'"

"Does anybody know anything about Stanley Ann Dunham? Was she domineering?"

Stanley was called Stanley because her parents wanted a boy. Being born without a winkle didn't stop Stanley's parents in giving her the name they had selected for him. This wasn't the '60s when Sam became common among girl names. Or the 80s when Riley gained steam. This was the 50s and the name was Stanley. Stanley. Like Stanley Steamer.

While we can always turn to Johnny Cash and A boy named Sue to see the very real psychological effects of growing up in such a self-centered and impervious to physical realites houshold I rather turn to the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, Vicky Gene Robinson. Yes, Bishop Gene Robinson's parents wanted a girl. Vicky was born with a winkle and that reality didn't stop him from being given the name selected for her. As we can see, this may have brought about sexual confusions especially since he may have been treated like a girl since they had given him a girl's name. But only Bishop Robinson and God know the truth.

This common bond between Stanley and Vicky may have been one of the unspoken reasons Obama had Vicky be a part of his Inuagural. But probably that is better for historians to think about.

As to what long term effect the name of Stanley had on Obama's mother we are thankful she gave her son a boy's name. Very thankful. Also Obama's inability to change with constantly changing realities all around him and around the world may not be Marxism but just be a very bad family trait.

Kind of like madness among the Spencers.

Mrs. P

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