I’m always entertained by the writings of supercilious fools, such as Greg Sheridan. He should stick to writing, as it’s an anonymous occupation in that while he can be read for a fool, at least in the writing, he has less of an opportunity to confirm his foolishness than he has in real-time debate, as proven during his brief but equally amusing appearance on ABC’s Q&A.
Take, as a prime example, his op-ed in the Oz today. Barack Obama is not a ‘Fonzie’ but seemingly more akin to a ‘Ritchie Cunningham’. One might ask, “what the fuck??!”. Even the most casual viewer of the eighties cult program, “Happy Days” would know full well that while the Fonz came off all tough & macho, he was as honourable and responsible a person as Ritchie, just a little more of a fraud behind the leather jacket, motorcycle & duck’s-arse hairdo. Sure, not someone to be messed with, on the surface, but equally loved and respected and it’s my belief that Sheridan was searching for that latter word when seeking to describe what Obama is engendering among his peers in the global community. Respect.
Fear and respect are not mutually exclusive terms when considering power-play politics. I believe Sheridan to be completely inaccurate when he declares the world feared George W. Bush out of any grudging respect for the power he could wield. I believe the world feared George W. Bush because of his complete unpredictability and unilateral attitudes in relations with the global community. Fear borne of unpredictability is not respect in any measure, yet respect can be engendered through fear of predictable, known behaviours. Just as a child that misbehaves quickly learns that bad behaviour attracts corporal punishment from a parent, that same parent’s willingness to employ corporal punishment sparingly, if at all, engenders more respect for the parent, than fear.
Barack Obama, just nine months into his first term, is laying the basis for assessment of what the global community hopes and believes will be known and predictable behaviours. Thankfully, Sheridan does caveat his eidolic treatise with “It’s too early to make that call, but I’m starting to get worried”, but being an arch conservative and Republican politick apologist, he would say that, wouldn’t he.
Further, I’d suggest that Sheridan and his ilk steer clear of attempting to quote the classics as supports for their opinions. Claiming Niccolo Machiavelli as an acceptable yardstick through unassociated quotes from a revision of history is not a good look. I too could quote Machiavelli, in fact, I shall.
“A prince should command respect through his conduct, because a prince that is highly respected by his people is unlikely to face internal struggles. Additionally, a prince who does not raise the contempt of the nobles and keeps the people satisfied, should have no fear of conspirators.”
Whack that up yer classical klacker, Greg Sheridan! You ought to be taking note, old son, of historical figures who held Machiavelli in high regard. Josef Stalin, Benito Mussolini and Napolean Bonaparte are just three such. Just a tip.