(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, April 15, 2023)
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about running for president of the United States. I told the family. Everyone got quiet and looked at each other. Then my boy said, “You’ve got this, Paps. I’d vote for you.” That’s all I needed to hear. I’m off. I’m running. I know the way. Follow me!
I realize that I might be a dark horse in this race. I’m not Democrat. I’m not Republican. I’m not even American. It’s okay. I’ll lie. I’ll be Machiavellian. I’ll lead the new Machiavellian Party. It can be created.
If you paid attention in high school history (thank you Mr. Ashley) you’ll remember Machiavelli, the 16th-century Italian diplomat who wrote about how to lie and cheat your way to the top in politics. Let them taste the tip of your sword. Be the cunning fox. The ravenous lion.
It’s not rocket science. Not in our post-truth culture when the truth is that people don’t care for truth. They only care for success. This is Machiavelli. His political treatise, “The Prince,” will be our guide.
We’ll get lawyers who lie big. Because there is no lie if it’s not a big lie. Besides, what if there is no truth? What if there are just different perspectives? Just different points of view? You know? No, really. This is how you want your lawyers, and your kingdom, to think.
Then your backside is covered when you go to foreign nations for dirt on your political opponents. It’s covered when you cook the books. When you hunt for extra votes. When you encourage insurrection. When, speaking of your backside, you get sued for sexual assault, or when you hide hush money payments.
Good liars help you follow the un-golden rule to “Do unto others as you expect they’ll do to you.” And this, really, is why I’m running for president. So, people, send money. Lots of it. Let me work with you. Here’s your hat. Together we’ll make life great again.
I should say also that I’m now the perfect age to be president, because whatever age I am is the perfect age. And I’m in perfect health. Which is why I support psychiatric evaluations of my opponents. I know other liars are out there. They’re trying. They always have.
Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Clinton lied about not having sex with Monica Lewinsky. Nixon lied about Watergate. Johnson lied about pretty much everything. How far back do we go? “I can’t tell a lie, Pa,” is what little George Washington said, confessing he split his father’s cherry tree with a hatchet. Except he didn’t. It’s just a fable. Another lie.
No, there’s nothing new under the sun. Machiavelli didn’t wake up one day and come up with this himself. Old Beelzebub knows. Watch the eyes. Keep the poker face. Be the serpent.
Abraham Lincoln, funny enough, had a poker face. Honest Abe, Republican, America’s 16th president, a lawyer no less, so hopelessly truthful that during civil war he saved the nation – 620,000 deaths later – from destroying itself. Lincoln’s beautifully odd and honest face raises an entirely different set of issues.
There’s nothing more to say about this, except that 158 years ago today, April 15, 1865, Lincoln died. The previous day, Good Friday that year, he was shot in the head. An honest president assassinated on that sort of day? What are the odds? One in 365, I suppose. Do you know what I mean?
Even the Lord of the Lies has his limits. Even Machiavelli, who was eventually tortured, jailed and banished from political life, would never take on Lincoln. “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” That’s Lincoln. Gosh. It’s like sunlight to a vampire. Like deadly water on that wicked witch. “I’m melting! Melting!”
This is it. If anyone bothers to stare them down, eventually even the most monstrous bullies will fall. They’ll crash and burn. Just saying. Let’s be aware.