February 17, 2015
Bill Clinton, a Machiavellian?
Machiavelli’s "The Qualities of the Prince” is argued to be the most controversial, yet influential, books published in western literature According to John O’Rourke, the editor of Boston University Today (“Machiavelli’s The Prince”). One of the main arguments Machiavelli states in "The Qualities of the Prince” is “the ends, no matter how immoral, justify the means for preserving political authority” (O’Rourke). Yes, the name Machiavelli has been become synonymous with tyrants, but some of the greatest presidents of the United States have also used Machiavelli’s work as a reference. One of Machiavelli’s central questions is “whether it is better to be loved than to be feared” (227). Bill Clinton has made decisions throughout his presidency to either follow or go against Machiavelli’s theories on how to be a good leader. Clinton is a prime example of a memorable president who has used the Machiavelli strategy of dishonesty towards the American public. His actions on foreign policy and war have been linked to Machiavelli by the way he used war to distract the American public from his scandal to keep his image intact. Critics have debated whether "The Qualities of the Prince” was written as a handbook for tyrants, as an expository writing about the truths in politics, or as a “how to” for realist leaders (O’Rourke). No matter why it was written, it is still as valid in the 21st century as it was 500 years ago when it was written. If Clinton would have followed Machiavelli’s theories within "The Qualities of the Prince” more than, most likely he would not have been impeached and could have had a more successful second presidential term. Machiavelli’s ideal prince should be feared instead of being loved. Clinton is the complete opposite of Machiavelli’s ideal prince, although Clinton did use some aspects of Machiavelli’s theories to protect his reputation. Clinton wants to be loved by the citizens of the United States. According to Michael Barone, who is a political analyst, pundit and journalist, “Bill Clinton is probably the least feared president within living memory” ("Bill, Meet Niccolo"). Nevertheless, he is still loved, he has been described as friendly and attentive, and when he speaks, he makes every person in the audience feel like the most important person in the room ("The Oklahoma”). Another reason why he was liked was how fast he reacted when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred in 1995. Four days after the bombing, Clinton arrived in Oklahoma City and met with every single person and truly connected with them ("The Oklahoma”). Unfortunately, people who didn’t care much for President Clinton could look past his abilities to connect with his audience, and considered him self-absorbed, immature, indecisive when it came to domestic affairs, and weak in the affairs of the world when representing America (Ehrenhalt et al.). According to Ehrenhalt et al. Clinton wanted the American people to like him, because of that he never developed his own core beliefs, and eventually would do what the public wanted ("Why Did So Many”). Contrary to Michael Barone’s argument, Clinton was feared as he used every available method to damage his political opposition. In the mid of 1997, the IRS began to audit 20 non-profit organizations that politically opposed Clinton, while none of supportive non-profit organizations were under investigation (Ehrenhalt et al.). Clinton cares about his power and reputation, he attacked who oppose him politically with the government to achieve his own personal and political goals.
Despite Clintons desire to be liked, he had made other decisions throughout his presidency that were more Machiavellian. When Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was exposed he denied it ever happened, even while being under oath. Similarly, Bush made the same decision to lie to the American public. He lied about how important it was