Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Friday, August 31, 2007

THE BRILLIANCE OF NIXON

Richard Nixon was quite the figure in history. He was a naval officer, a Congressman, a Senator, Vice-President, cheated out of the Presidency, later won the Presidency, and lost it all due to scandal. However, a man does not achieve such lofty positions without having a degree of greatness about him. Right now I am reading his book Leaders.

For anyone with a desire to understand the complexities, compromises, and tools that a leader employs, Nixon writes masterfully about this as he examines the great leaders of the Twentieth Century and combines anecdote with biography to write one of the greatest political books ever written. And unlike Plato, Machiavelli, or Locke the biographies keep the reading interesting. But like Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids, you learn something before you even realize it.

As I read I have been marking passages to share his insights here in a new segment. This first passage is Nixon's attempt to define what makes a great leader...

From Richard Nixon's Leader's, Page 3:

"One distinction must be kept clear: Those commonly acclaimed as "great" leaders are not necessarily good men. Russia's Peter the Great was a cruel despot. Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Napoleon are remembered not for their statesmanship but for their conquests. When we speak of the great leaders of history only occasionally do we refer to those who raised statecraft to a higher moral plane. Rather, we are talking about those who so effectively wielded power on such a grand scale that they significantly changed the course of history for their nations and for the world. Churchill and Stalin were both, in their different ways, great leaders. But without Churchill, Western Europe might have been enslaved; without Stalin, Eastern Europe might have been free."


Given today's politics one can't help but think of George W. Bush when reading this. How has his presidency changed America and the World? What is most interesting, as Nixon points out is that Bush was able to wield power successfully during his presidency to get what he wanted. In retrospect, social security reform and immigration reform have been his biggest failures. Of course history will remember him for the war, but the outcome has yet to be decided. Furthermore, if the Presidency continues to assert itself over the bickering worthless Congress, Bush could very well be remembered as the "great" leader that in spite of his corruption, and vast opposition was able to raise the Presidency from the co-equal branch to a more powerful executive that was able to change American government and consolidate power in one effective figure, like Stalin, Mussolini, or Lincoln.

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