Commodus rose to power not just as the purported son of the previous Emperor (the hereditary principle wasn't a hard rule for Imperial succession) but on a wave of popular enthusiasm - you just cited one such event that evoked Roman enthusiasm. A gladiator rather than a statesman, Commodus spoke to everybody and cut a deal with Rome's enemies that, although it gave peace for a few short years, pretty much ensured long-term military conflict and economic decay.
Yesterday on the radio I heard a pitch for Obama embedded in a supermarket commercial. That's something very new in political campaigning. There has been little substantial critical analysis of the candidate in the mainstream media. He owes everything to the press, and they know it. Why should anybody vote for a candidate who is tied by such a rope?
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