I generally take a book—now my Kindle—on my travels. Watching television in a foreign language without subtitles is not my idea of a holiday. I like to get up early and, since I do not go out after dinner (bars and discos are not my cup of tea), I go to bed early. Whether hard or soft mattresses, cold or hot temperatures, noisy or quiet surroundings, after a bit of reading I’m out like a light.
On one trip, I took along Cleopatra: A Life by Stacey Schiff. While reading it, I came across a quote from the Roman historian, Dio, which upon reflection seems pertinent to the political malaise we find ourselves in today. It was his observation, after the death of Julius Caesar, that “Democracy sounded very well and good, but its results are seen not to agree at all with its title. Monarchy, on the contrary, has an unpleasant sound, but is a most practical form of government to live under. For it is easier to find a single excellent man than many of them.” It appears to be the rationale for autocrats, whom our president aspires to emulate, as well as the explanation for the mess in the U.S. Congress. De Tocqueville would not agree, but even he said that it was better to have good rules than a good leader. Now we have to worry about the Attorney General dismantling our good rules. As for finding a good leader, now, that’s the challenge!