America’s Cycles of Change

America as Rome, Part 3: The Clintons and Nero

Thu, 13 October 2016

At first, the Roman Emperor Nero was very much like US President Bill Clinton:

They were both mass entertainers: They both loved to perform in front of audiences. They were both charismatic and at first wildly popular. They presided over peace and an economic boom.

Eventually crises erupted around the world. Palestine exploded in rebellion for Nero (sounds familiar). Clinton failed to prevent genocide in Rwanda, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and the economic advice of his administration brought ruin to the Russian people. He failed to bring peace to the Holy Land too. But no one back home in Imperial Rome (sorry, Washington) cared.

Nero, like Clinton loved show business. Clinton brought Hollywood glitz – and sleaze – to Washington. There were the girl friends. That was pure Nero.

Nero adored show business and fancied himself the Michael Jackson of the ancient world. But eventually the scandals and bungles got too much. Nero presided over the burning of Rome: Then he burned hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Christians.

Only Waco and its cultists burned under Clinton. But it was a horrible enough little scandal.

The Romans were luckier – and wiser – than modern America. Nero, after committing suicide – was succeeded by the wise and restrained Vespasian. We got George W. Bush.

Vespasian finished a war he did not start in the Middle East – yet again in Palestine – with total and merciless victory. Bush waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and contrived to totally bungle both of them. The idea of empire was getting a bad name again.

Next: A Century of Good Emperors – ad Less Good Presidents

America as Rome, Part 1: Emperors in Rome and the United States: At First They Seemed Like a Good Idea

America as Rome, Part 2: The Secret Scandals of Tiberius, John F. Kennedy & Lyndon Johnson

America as Rome, Part 3: The Clintons and Nero

America as Rome, Part 4: A Century of Good Emperors – and Less Good Presidents