“Caligula: Not So Bad”

As was pointed out in the definitive textbook on American history and its political system — America (The Book) — one of the most damning political smear campaigns in world history was that against Caligula, in which he was portrayed as not such a bad guy after all. For someone who prided himself on his decadence and barbarism, this was tantamount to a lethal blow. (It’s worth noting that the allegations were, of course, false. Caligula didn’t have a decent bone in his body.)

And now we have pretty much the same thing, with the revelation that John Roberts worked in support of gay rights on a pro bono basis back when he was with Hogan & Hartson here in Washington. Suddenly, the darling of the fascistic “Christian” right is no longer the poster boy they’d hoped for. As Richard Cohen expresses so eloquently in today’s column, John Roberts is actually a human being, who cares about basic human rights.

The left still has plenty of room to question Roberts’s stands on other issues, but I think the most mileage can probably be gained by taking a lesson from history. Especially since, unlike Caligula, he may actually be a decent person.


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