Friday, March 16, 2012


Dear FLG,

Who would be your ideal presidential candidate?

A Serpentor-esque combination of Alexander the Great, Plato, Milton Friedman, Winston Churchill, Matteo Ricci, and Henry Morgan.

UPDATE: Forgot George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.


Anonymous said...

Matteo Ricci! Really? That's worth an expository post.

George Pal

Withywindle said...

He would have a great memory, good skills at dealing with the Chinese, rooted faith, and an ability to endure seasickness that will stand him in good stead while campaigning.

FLG said...

Withy beat me to it. By the by, I value the ability to withstand seasickness very highly.

Robbo said...

Could you maybe bundle all those characters into a body along the lines of, say, Jessica Alba?

I mean, as long as you're at it, why not?

Anonymous said...

So, Withy, your guy was Jon Huntsman?? I mean, he was mine, too. Dave.s.

Withywindle said...

God, no; FLG put Ricci on the list, not me.

The Ancient said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Ancient said...

See "Dirty Tricks, Roman-Style" in the 3/16 edition of the WSJ.

(Also titled "Cicero, Dirty Tricks, and the American Way of Campaigning.")

Excerpt (advice to Cicero from his brother Quintus):

1. Promise everything to everyone. Quintus says that the best way to win voters is to tell them what they want to hear: "Remember Cotta, that master of campaigning, who said he would promise anything, unless some clear obligation prevented him, but only lived up to those promises that benefited him." As Quintus says, people will be much angrier with a candidate who refuses to make promises than with one who, once elected, breaks them.

2. Call in all favors. If you have helped friends or associates in the past, let them know that it's payback time: "Make it clear to each one under obligation to you exactly what you expect from him. Remind them all that you have never asked anything of them before, but now is the time to make good on what they owe you." If someone isn't in your debt, remind him that if elected, you can reward him later, but only if he backs you now.

3. Know your opponent's weaknesses—and exploit them. Quintus practically invented opposition research: "Consider Antonius, who once had his property confiscated for debt…then after he was elected as praetor, he disgraced himself by going down to the market and buying a girl to be his sex slave." A winning candidate calmly assesses his opponent and then focuses relentlessly on his weaknesses, all the while trying to distract voters from his strengths.

4. Flatter voters shamelessly. Quintus warns his brother: "You can be rather stiff at times. You desperately need to learn the art of flattery—a disgraceful thing in normal life but essential when you are running for office." A candidate must make voters believe that he thinks they're important. Shake their hands, look them in the eye, listen to their problems.

5. Give people hope. Even the most cynical voter wants to believe in someone: "The most important part of your campaign is to bring hope to people and a feeling of goodwill toward you." Voters who are persuaded that you can make their world better will be your most devoted followers—at least until after the election, when you will inevitably let them down.

FLG said...


Sounds like Vito Corelone.

arethusa said...

The thought has been crossing my mind lately that M. Cicero and M. Romney bear more than a passing resemblance to each other.

Of course, I like Cicero.

The Ancient said...

FLG --

Michael: My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.

Kay Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed.

Michael: Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?

(Isn't it likely true that Obama has personally signed off on the deaths of more specific individuals than any President at any point in the country's history?)

arethusa --

That could almost pass for acquiescence.

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