The Pompey Effect

Posted by Barry Strauss under on January 5, 2012

The Republican establishment wanted him. A brilliant strategist, he was painstaking in his attention to logistics. He knew his business inside and out. His friends adored him and he had many friends.

Hail, Caesar! It sounds like you are describing the perfect candidate.

I haven’t finished. His speeches left as much of an impression as a tideless sea on a gravel shore. His men fought well as long as they were fed and paid on time. If they wanted inspiration they looked elsewhere.

Uh-oh. Just who are you describing?

Lose one battle and he lost the war. At the first sign of trouble, his men went flying for the exit.
Are you describing a certain inevitable presidential candidate, Dictator?

Unlike him, his opponent was an inspiring speaker, a successful author, a man of vision, and audacity incarnate. While he came from privilege, his opponent was a man of the people, or at least he could claim to be.

Not the Massachusetts Moderate?

Caesar is referring to his ill-fated rival, Pompey the Great. Rome’s Senatorial establishment chose him to hijack the state and lead their jealous war against the brilliant governor of Gaul. Pompey was second to none as a military strategist and organizer. His extensive network of friends allowed him to tap the wealth and power of Italy and the entire Eastern Mediterranean, which was the richest part of the Roman world.

That’s a relief, I thought you meant Mitt Romney.

Like Pompey, Governor Romney is a man of many talents. He is a superb businessman with the potential of making an excellent manager of a troubled economy. An effective governor, he appears to be a man of decency and steadfastness. He should win but, then again, so should have Pompey.
Pompey had everything it takes except the ability to compete. He built a great army but he didn’t know how to use it. He didn’t know when to go for the jugular and when to hold back. Does Romney?

Romney is an impressive man.

So is President Obama. Let the games begin.

Barry Strauss’s new book, Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership, will be published in May (Simon & Schuster).

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