January 21, 2007
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Historical anomaly

In American football, teams select among a variety of defensive schemes. Some are better against the pass, others are better against the run. Each has its own tendencies

Political systems work the same way: you never know exactly what will happen, but each system seems designed to be good at some things even if it might have trouble with others. And that's what makes the current administration so strange.

"I don’t think he understands the world,” Mr. Rockefeller said. “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world. I don’t think he reads like he says he does.”

He added, “Every time he’s read something he tells you about it, I think.”

It’s not as if we haven’t seen important leaders like this before. Domitian, perhaps. Commodus. Henry VI. In fact, the U.S. was founded in reaction to one: George III. Men who probably didn’t especially want the power, men who would probably have been happier living in a nice quiet house in country. And so the Americans design a Republic because, while the people might elect a demagogue or a scoundrel, you wouldn’t expect them to elect gentle idiots who just don’t know anything or care much.

It’s like Washington and Madison put eight men in the box and offense ran right up the middle and still, somehow, couldn’t be stopped.