Scott Horton accomplishes quite a feat drawing together Virgil, Ovid, Horace and Thomas Jefferson for lessons on tyranny and how it works, The President-Tyrant
It is common for people today to question how any leader can be a tyrant who achieves office through popular election, and, indeed, who remains popular. But such talk is foolish and betrays an ignorance of the origins of the term and the historical context of its use. Throughout history, tyrants came to power through means of control and manipulation of popular opinion. This was so familiar a feature to the thinkers of antiquity, that Aristotle charts it as a characteristic of the tyrant.
[ ]…On Monday, the White House announced a National Intelligence Estimate, which has been available for half a year and whose release Vice President Cheney has vehemently fought. It tells us that Iran packed in its nuclear weapons program under the pressure of sanctions in 2003. Bush tells us that he learned about this “only the prior week.” But the lie is quickly exposed as McConnell acknowledges having briefed him at least in August, and other intelligence figures note that the basic information on which the intelligence assessment rested was in hand since June. Nevertheless, let’s recount some of the statements that a president who fully understood what the intelligence assessment on this issue was made to the American public in a predictable effort to build sentiment for a war which his Vice President was busily plotting:
March 31st: “Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon…”
June 5th: Iran’s “pursuit of nuclear weapons…”
June 19th: “consequences to the Iranian government if they continue to pursue a nuclear weapon…”
July 12th: “the same regime in Iran that is pursuing nuclear weapons…”
Bush and his supporters will continue the drum beat of paranoia until he leaves office, but the chain will remain unbroken as all the Republican candidates mindlessly echo some version of the same world view. There is this giant straw man in the room that represents Conservative thinking . It consists of two extreme positions. There is some kind of radical Islamic threat so huge and powerful it threatens the very existence of western civilization and anyone that doesn’t buy this scenario is pro terrorist. Conservatives refuse to allow for a middle ground where there are degrees of threat. Of course they would never admit that what they sell as toughness is actually fear born of zealotry, a modern day lynch mob that is out of control, all too willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of lives and betray our Jeffersonian ideals to get the relatively small number of bad guys.