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By Jingo! It’s the Boy Genius!

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The current Patrician of Ankh-Morpork is Lord Havelock Vetinari, who has proved to be quite different from his predecessors.. Most members of the office were content merely to guide and serve. Lord Vetinari, instead believes in calm sense and rule over less intelligent, benighted peoples is best done through guiding them.

Under his rule, crime has dropped (well, illegal crime, anyway), Ankh-Morpork has prospered, and provided one doesn’t commit suicide it’s a decent place to live. His Lordship is against unnecessary violence (while being bang on the side of necessary violence, of course), and is remarkably tolerant – he will allow anything which does not threaten the wellfare of the city. Well, he does have anyone caught practicing mime inside the city walls hung upside down over a scorpion pit, but that’s really his only failing, if you can even call it that.

The Vetinari family motto is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. He is a master at seeding the right person in the camp of his rivals, and in fact, if his rivals do not realize it themselves, making them into better rivals. In doing so, he often solves a problem before it is a problem, by making it into a problem that can be solved.

‘And these are your reasons, my lord?’
‘Do you think I have others?’ said Lord Vetinari. ‘My motives, as ever, are entirely transparent.’
Hughnon reflected that ‘entirely transparent’ meant either that you could see right through them or that you couldn’t see them at all.

It reminds one of the current political adviser of the President,Karl Rove. Early in his career, he stole letterheads from a rival’s office and printed fliers romising “free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing”. He then distributed the fliers in Chicago’ s red-light district, rock concerts and homeless shelters. It takes a special kind of intelligence for a prank of this sort. Other whisper campaigns are rumored to have been his handiwork, including the one against John McCain.

“Karl is enormously powerful, maybe the single most powerful person in the modern, post-Hoover era ever to occupy a political adviser post near the Oval Office,” John DiIulio, a former presidential adviser, wrote in a notoriously frank email to a journalist from Esquire magazine, after resigning in 2001. “Little happens on any issue without Karl’s OK, and often he supplies such policy substance as the administration puts out.”

As Wikipedia has it,

Strangely enough, Vetinari has no lust for power. The sole reason for him ruling the city is that he is fiercely loyal to it.

Karl Rove has similar aspirations

Rove, the President’s most trusted political strategist and arguably one of the shrewdest man in Washington, won’t publicly acknowledge the outcome of the midterms as any kind of personal affirmation. He’ll attribute the Republican gains in the House and Senate to the intelligence of the voters or the general mood of the country. Or, more likely, he’ll point to the President’s appeal — Rove has no time for basking in past successes. This self-described “very competitive guy” is already moving on to the next big thing

His vision is focused on larger things than a re-election. Much like Lord Vetinari, who is duly relected yearly by a committee of Ankh-Morpork’s leading families, Karl Rove is looking beyond everyday politics. The Guardian believes he would like to establish a Republican hegemony similar to that effected by William Mckinley with his defeat of William Jennings Bryan in 1896

Of course, the one difference with Lord Vetinari and Karl Rove is that Vetinari rules in absentia of Ankh-Morpork’s King, sitting on a chair below the empty Throne of the city. It would be hard to deny the genius of this masterful politican and king-maker, although his detractors have considered Karl Rovian a synonym for Machiavellian.

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  • Eric Olsen

    AL, I wanted to issue a general thanks for your very literate and interesting posts, much appreciated, although I admit I had no idea what the hell you were talking about here until I clicked over – clever but facile analogy, carry on!