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The Borgia Presidency

There was once a Cardinal of the Catholic Church named Rodrigo Borgia. His uncle was Pope Callixtus III, who bequeathed unto him the position of Cardinal. At the same time, Borgia was named Bishop of Valencia, an “inheritance” after his uncle had to vacate the position to sit in the Throne of St. Peter. Then, in 1492, he became Pope Alexander VI, defeating Giuliano della Rovere and Ascanio Sforza, a man who became a member of his inner circle. While tales of simony, corruption, and even incest riddle the history of the Church, they are contested by many historians (fans of the Assassin’s Creed video game series might beg to differ, but contrary to the beliefs of some on Tumblr, video games are not real). What we do know is that Rodrigo Borgia, who later became Alexander VI, was an ambitious man.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell which stories of the papacy of Alexander VI are true and which are romanticized accounts based solely on the accusations of those that despised him. There are a few, historical things we do know, however, and one of them is that the invasion of the Papal States by France led the pope to realize that Italy cannot operate as several independent states. It was far too easy for the French to roll through Italy and take Naples, and just as easy for the Spanish to come in and throw the French out.

Alexander took what he had been doing (building up a power base for himself and his family and supporters) and expanded the effort. He moved to consolidate as much of Italy as possible, to create for himself, essentially, a kingdom from which to rule. Intrigue and scandal seemed to never end for the Borgia pope, and it appeared only in his final days that he was truly repentant of whatever his true sins might have been.

The tale of Barack Obama is not so different.

Barack Obama was an outsider. A lawyer, like Borgia, he was ambitious and attained a fairly high rank that allowed him to position himself to take a big leap into the ultimate political position. He defeated two opponents in his run for the presidency (one of those opponents, Hillary Clinton, would become a cabinet member under Obama). Once he became president, he did everything he could to consolidate his power and award fiefdoms to his supporters.

He’s a coalition builder, just like Borgia was. He builds and breaks alliances when it suits him, and he uses his power to further his own agenda, regardless of what the office he holds is actually supposed to do. The only difference between the two is that it is hard to imagine Obama being truly repentant in the end.

The fact is, the Obama administration is working very hard to amass as much power within his office as possible. His goal is a legacy, one that he can be remembered for and one, he thinks, will be beloved when the history books are written. Rodrigo Borgia, however, was well-aware of how he was viewed in the world. Barack Obama believes he has some sort of public support, despite what almost every poll actually shows. He is so insulated in himself that he cannot see his beliefs are flawed and that he is ultimately going to do irreparable harm to his legacy.

What Obama fails to realize is that history judges leaders on how they advance their nation. Not how they advance others.

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