Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

SUMMER READING ISSUE : AND I QUOTE / What Political Books Are Saying : THE PATRIOT: An Exhortation to Liberate America From the Barbarians, By Gary Hart (The Free Press: $21; 187 pp.)

June 02, 1996|John Balzar

"The immediate duties of the leader--preventing and punishing crime, reducing illegitimate births, waging war against drugs, balancing budgets--demand rather the skills of a national housekeeper than those of Odyssean adventurer. . . . Modern leadership is functional and utilitarian. In contrast, classic leadership is visionary, epic, charismatic. Citizens wonder that the great leaders are so rare even as they demand that current leaders fix the potholes. Candidates for office in the United States condition public expectations by performing literally the servant's role--gasoline station attendant, grocery clerk and trash hauler. If you are able to imagine Charles de Gaulle doing this, then you are able to imagine anything."

****

Among many superficial lies in politics is that Niccolo Machiavelli was a ruthless cynic. Yes, he was that, but he was also a philosopher and the father of what we now call political science. Like many people through the centuries, he yearned for a "prince" to lead--and he expounded the qualities necessary for a balanced, happy, secure state. Here, Hart, former senator and presidential candidate, takes inspiration from Machiavelli and borrows his aphoristic style. Hart's libido ruined his elective career but his mind remains keen and engaging. Americans have improved the automobile, the play of basketball and the growing of wheat, all in our own interests. This is Hart's formula for renovating our thinking about politics.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|