“Did you see Berlusconi?” asked Elizabeth. “He was just out in the square. That’s what all that noise was about…it was a political rally of some sort. I was just walking through and I stopped to listen to this guy. He was really haranguing the crowd…he looked like the newsreels of Mussolini…making dramatic gestures. A real windbag, as near as I could figure…
“But he was just warming up the crowd. Then, a big black car drove up and Berlusconi got out… There were no security guards, just a couple of aides carrying umbrellas. I guess it is only in America that we think people are going to kill the president. Maybe it is only in America that they are…or only in America that we think the president is worth protecting.
“Berlusconi was smooth. Of course, I don’t know what he said…but he said it so smoothly…so suavely…so confidently that I was charmed. He smiled. He made jokes. He seemed completely in control.”
*** Domitian was the younger son of Vespasian – who founded the Flavian dynasty of emperors, after the Julians petered out. He, Domitian, succeeded his older brother, Titus, as emperor after the later died in 81 AD. Domitian married well – he wed the daughter of Corbulo, a great general whom Nero had forced to kill himself. Then, as emperor, he apparently did a good job of micro-managing the empire’s finances…and wrote a book on baldness.
Domitian is not considered a great military leader, but the business of Rome was war and he was no stranger to it. Soon after he took the reigns of government he was whipping up the warhorses – into Gaul…then Britain…and then into the Dacian Wars and then the two Pannonian wars (the second one against both the Suebi and the Sarmatians). He was said to be planning a third Pannonian war when, in September, 96 A.D., his good friend Cocceius Nerva stabbed him dead and proclaimed himself emperor.
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