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8/29/02

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"Rome is but a wilderness of tigers, and tigers must prey." -William Shakespeare Titus Andronicus Act III, Scene 1

The Senate and Imperial Rule

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Do these Senators protect the Republic?

International affairs have always been an active area of involvement for the U.S. Senate. The public perception is that this deliberate body is the seat of wisdom for our elders. And who better than the dean of this august body, Robert C. Byrd, to depict the role of this assemblage. Back on September 15, 1998 as part of a lecture series, the Senator from West Virginia gave the address - The Great Forum of Constitutional Liberty.

Byrd sets the tone with the quote: "To be ignorant of what happened before you were born," said Cicero, "is to remain always a child." The interject of Marcus Tullius Cicero, is most appropriate, since his story is certainly - The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician His legend is one that U.S. Senators may want to wrap around themselves, but what they forget is that Cicero served during the era of the demise of the Roman Republic. Today’s Senators function within their own Imperial Empire, while they claim our government still remains a republicanism State. 

Because of the historian Plutarch, we have preserved the writings and deeds of Cicero, his insights and significance. His opposition to Julius Caesar and support for Pompey to restore the principles and restraints that was the true glory of Rome, is a narrative that most overlook when they view the SPQR in the legion banner. But how many people know what the symbol represents? The Senate and People of Rome does not mean the emperor and the empire!

The John Dryden translation of Plutarch is the account that provides the chronicle on the lawyer who understood what the law really meant. How many U.S. Senators can match the Rhetoric, Philosophy and Principles of a Cicero? Senator Byrd mentions in his address the floor where former Statesmen like Daniel Webster orated, Henry Clay forged compromises, and John C. Calhoun stood on principle. Can anyone cite any current Senator that could rank in their company? Byrd may have reverence for the “old Chamber”, but where is the respect for the office of Senator?

Cicero's Seven Parts of Oratory consist of the following:

1) Entrance-the opening at which time the subject is introduced and good intentions are assured

2) Narration-statement of situations vital to comprehending the topic at hand

3) Proposition-orator's dominant idea or thesis

4) Division-speaker's outline of concepts to illustrate

5) Confirmation-bodies of evidence supporting speaker's beliefs

6) Rebuttal-an antagonist's potential disagreement with evidence

7) Conclusion-synopsis of evidence and last appeal to audience's emotions

These rules and techniques have impact if delivered with sincerity and purpose. But for oratory to change minds and policies, the crucial ingredient that is necessary in any legislative body are representatives of integrity, honor and character. Again Byrd says: “ . . . we were fortunate to have wise, cautious people draft and implement our Constitution. They were pragmatists rather than idealists. James Madison, particularly, had a shrewd view of human nature. He did not believe in man's perfectibility. He assumed that those who achieved power would always try to amass more power and that political factions would always compete out of self-interest.”

Was Cicero an idealist or was he a man of courage? The Byrd notion that a public servant must be pragmatic at the cost of ideals, is central to contrast the profound difference between the conduct of heroes and the pretenders that now occupy the “old Chamber”. When Cicero first declined Caesar's invitation to join the political alliance with Caesar, Crassus and Pompey, was he pragmatic? It was only after a temporary renewal of the compact between Crassus and Pompey with Caesar; did Cicero agree to align himself with the three in politics. But after several efforts to defend loathsome policies, he broke with them and abandoned public life. He was no part of the plot to assassinate Caesar and returned to the senate briefly, to call for a general amnesty after the Ides of March. It was only after Octavian learned of Cicero's unfortunate remark that "the young man should be given praise, distinctions... and then be disposed of" that the triumvirate of Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus had Cicero killed. His head and hands were displayed on the rostra, the speakers' platform at the Forum, in Rome.

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Banner for the American Empire!

When Byrd argues that the legislative branch must be eternally vigilant and refers to George Washington’s Farewell Address, is this the appeal of a Senator that deserves to sit next to a Cicero? Is there anyone in the U.S. Senate who has the audacity to stand up to the imperial dictatorship that has become the American Empire? Cicero was the conscience of the Roman Republic. Today our republic is long dead. While the legions of the empire are again poised to subdue the barbarians in the territories, who can we turn to, to speak the truth?

Byrd says: “I call it the duty beyond our duties. The duty I am talking about is the duty to endeavor to inspire others and to demonstrate, through personal example, that public service of all types ought to be an honorable calling. Contrary to what many believe, it is absolutely the wrong place for the slick and the insincere.”

Can any thinking person remain unconvinced that this rhetoric is pure casuistry? This isn’t oratory in the league of Cicero, it is pure sophistry from one who voted not to convict an impeached president! What an example Senator Byrd . . .

The SPQR that is the symbol for the American State, stands for - the senate perfidy of the republic.Byrd speaks of the senate’s giants and its little men. Well, it is now comprised of a hundred ineffectual juvenile delinquents, who deny what happened before they were born, and the purpose of what it means to be a champion of the people of America.

Byrd closer with: “In war and in peace, it has been the sure refuge and protector of the rights of the states and of a political minority because great and courageous Senators have always been there to stay the course and keep the faith. And it can do so again as long as we are ever blessed in this august body with those who hear the clear tones of the bell of duty, the Senate will continue to stand--the great forum of constitutional American liberty!”

This august body has become a disgrace. Turning a deaf ear to the drums of an imminent emperor’s war, will only advance an Octavian. One who is quite willing to put on display the head and hands of our own republic. "Et tu, Brute!" was the cry from a dying Caesar. In our case what is expiring is our Nation. Our invocation needs to be Cicero’s where art thou . . . The Republic needs you now!

SARTRE - August 29, 2002

A man of courage is also full of faith. - Marcus Tullius Cicero

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