Flattery in Politics. Mal Meninga vs King Lear

Nicholas Gruen and Peyton Bowman explore the case of Mal Meninga and talk about how society demands flattery over selflessness.

Peyton Bowman
February 26, 2022

When I was a boy, my father sometimes told me the story of Cincinnatus, the 5th-6th century farmer who was twice appointed dictator of Rome, and who voluntarily gave up his power both times. His restraint had supposedly been a model for early American leaders like George Washington, who gave up the presidency after two terms.

Cincinnatus lacked many of the vices that we associate with politicians. Neither was he self-centered, selfish, a servant of the self. He made himself, rather, an instrument of service to the state. He was, in other words, everything that one wishes for when one uses a word like “statesman.”

It’s pretty clear that the most successful politicians these days are not at all like Cincinnatus. But why does it have to be this way? In our discussion this week, Nicholas Gruen and I explore the case of Mal Meninga and talk about how we live in a society that demands flattery over selflessness.



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