March 31, 2004
Source Or Parallel? W. and Ferdinand of Aragon

Michael Novak in The Corner, on the calls for Condoleezza Rice to testify before Congress:

Look. We have seen this move before. Everybody rages that Bush is doing the wrong thing, he has to do X. Senator Daschle says he has to do X.

Republicans say he has to do X. The whole press says he is stupid for not doing X. Still, Bush refuses. And refuses. And refuses. Then, after everybody else has spoken, Bush suddenly says, O.K., we'll do X. Then, with the attention of the whole world upon him, and with everybody committed to X, he steps forward and goes right through the hole the attackers opened up for him. He does X, and knocks them dead.

In football, this play is called the mousetrap. The guard pulls out and moves toward the end, and the opposing players rush in on the attack. Suddenly the ball is handed off to a runner heading right for the spot the attackers had just vacated.

* * * * * * * *

This is the President's favorite play. When everybody says he is wrong--I mean, everybody--he finally shrugs, and says, OK. Then he does exactly what he intended to do anyway, but now by totally popular demand, and with everybody paying attention.

There is an interesting (though not exact) parallel in Francesco Guicciardini's Maxims and Reflections (77):

When I was ambassador to Spain, I observed that whenever his Catholic majesty Ferdinand of Aragon, most powerful and wise prince, was about to embark on some new enterprise, or make a decision of great importance, he went about it in such a way that before his intentions were known, the whole court and the people were already insisting and exclaiming: the king must do so and so. Then we would announce his decision just when all hoped and clamored for it, and it is incredible what justification and favor it found among his subjects and in his dominions.

This is Ferdinand V (1452-1516), who was married to Isabella, drove out the Muslims and Jews from Spain, and subsidized Columbus' voyages.

Guicciardini's best-known maxim is not actually his own (75):

Pope Leo used to cite his father, Lorenzo de' Medici, who often said: "Remember that those who speak ill of us do not love us."

One of the authors I would most like to see published in blog-form is Guicciardini. Each paragraph is well worth pondering, and one-a-day publication would be just about the right pace. Unfortunately, my Italian is inadequate, and the good translations are all in copyright, so I will not be able to add him to my stable of Lanx Satura lit-blogs. Perhaps someone else could do so?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at March 31, 2004 09:55 PM

Can I claim to have beat Novak to the punch?

I basically said the same damned thing two days ago.

Posted by: Dean Esmay on April 1, 2004 03:36 AM