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Augustus’s Morality Campaign

January 7, 2010

Ah, a fresh breath of 2010.  Don’t mind me, I’ll be in the corner choking on some re-tooled hypocrisy.  My office mate just alerted me to some more Karl Rove “genius” – aka “Look at the shiny thing over there.”  The Cato Institute recently called Mr. Rove onto the carpet.  You know it’s bad when the Cato Institute recognizes the hypocrisy that the MSM seems to let slide by with nary a second glance.   The editorial cartoonists also got in on the act with this gem.

I wish Mr. Rove would go with Mr. Cheney into some undisclosed location that every news outlet (tv, internet, all of them) would then immediately forget the phone number of.  Really, I think we would all be better off. 

I’d also like to add that I don’t think that the retirement of Senators Dorgan and Dodd is the harbinger of death that others would like to make it out to be.  Senator Dorgan is the bigger loss, but maybe President Obama could call upon the services of one of the few persons who warned out-loud of the dangers of repealing Glass-Steagall.   The Washington Monthly (which I am an unabashed fan of) has a good take on the “retirement is bad” meme.

But back to Mr. Rove (hopefully for the last time, although if his mug keeps going on tv, probably not).  He might want to take a refresher course in his ancient Roman history.  I’d recommend Mike Duncan’s The History of Rome podcasts.  Brilliant stuff. 

Augustus, formerly known as Gaius Octavianus, was by just about any measure, a mighty fine Roman Emperor.  It helps that he really created the position so, outside of his pesky great-uncle Julius Caesar, there was not a lot of annoying comparisons.  

While he turned Rome into the City of Marble, Augustus did have a bit of a misstep in attempting to impose morality upon Rome.  He didn’t like that robust Romans were not getting married and making more robust Romans but instead practicing free love with each other.  So he started punishing folks that were having sex to someone other than who they were married to.  This was rich coming from a man who was known to have had a one or two, or dare I say, numerous dalliances himself.  His marriage laws came back to roost, however, when he found out his own daughter Julia was practicing free love outside of marriage.  He banished her from Rome, and she died in exile, never being allowed back into the city.

As you might imagine, people were not necessarily as hot about being the morality police as Augustus might have hoped, and without stringent enforcement, the laws gradually fell into dust and decay. 

So to Mr. Rove, who finds it convenient to preach nothing at all of what he practices, STFU.  And I will try not to tell you how to run your personal life if you promise to stay out of mine. 

 Extra special bonus:  This is a good general read on the life of Augustus.  Keep in mind, though, that all this happened 2,000 years ago, without C-Span to record the behind the scenes moments.  And support independent booksellers!

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