Lanny Davis’ Senatus Populusque Romanus Moment


Lanny Davis penned an excellent, most complementary piece about Lindsey.  Naturally the far right – shall we say the ignorant far right – is incapable of comprehending the term “Purple”.  That’s too bad.  It show just how degraded our educational system, and just how depraved the far right has become.

“…Just to be sure this column doesn’t result in hurting Mr. Graham back home among his conservative Republican supporters, let me remind everyone that I disagree with Mr. Graham on almost every major issue. He is far too conservative for me; I am a proud liberal Democrat.

But for some time I have considered Mr. Graham a truly rare politician: someone who can maintain his conservative principles but still reach across the aisle to find common ground, even, at times, with liberals like me.

He is, in short, the exemplary “Purple Senator” and perfect subject of this column.

I salute him — and wish we had more Lindsey Grahams serving in the U.S. Congress….”

Senatus Populusque Romanus – SPQR

For the ignorant among the far far far right,”Purple” refers to the color of the nobility.  The color “reddish purple”* was worn along the edging (a hand’s width) around the toga a Roman Senator would wear. A conquering general was allowed to wear a purple tunic trimmed with gold, during his triumph.

Purple was a symbol of power, wealth, and aristocracy.  The symbolism Lanny Davis poured into his article is one of the most complementary I’ve ever read about anyone.  It reeks of historical symbolism.

During the days of the Roman Republic, reaching Senatorial status was the apex of a political career.  In order to stand for consul, a Roman Senator had to wait his turn, and preferably be someone with military experience.  The greatest patriots, heroes, and thinkers of ancient Rome were of Senatorial status.

Until they were corrupted by Julius Caesar, they were men of honor who would rather die than go back on their word or go down in dishonorable defeat.  When our Founding Fathers conceived of the Bicameral legislative system, they used Rome as an example.  The Senate of the United States of America was to be one of statesmanship, honor, and of individuals who had the ability to rise above their personal ambitions, needs, and the cries of the masses to do what was right.

The Senate’s ultimate authority derived from the esteem and prestige of the Senate. This esteem and prestige was based on both precedent and custom, as well as the high caliber and prestige of the Senators. The Senate passed decrees, which were called senatus consultum. This was officially “advice” from the Senate to a magistrate. In practice, however, these were usually obeyed by the magistrates. The focus of the Roman Senate was directed towards foreign policy. Though it technically had no official role in the management of military conflict, the Senate ultimately was the force that oversaw such affairs. The senate also managed the civil administration in the city and the town. The requirements for becoming a senator included having at least 100,000 denarii worth of land, being born of the patrician (noble aristocrats) class, and having held public office at least once before. The rest of the senatus would vote on your acceptance.”

One of the problems the far far far irrational right has is the fact they don’t understand South Carolina. They also do not understand that there are principles that are far greater than their petty hates and dislikes.  By not understanding those principles they will never be able to achieve them, nor the statesman like honor which Lanny Davis refers.

In The State, on Sunday, an editorial read:

“…It is ironic that some of those who argue most vocally (and correctly) that judges should adhere to the original intent of our Constitution are so upset at Sen. Graham for adhering to the original intent of our Constitution in carrying out his role of advice and consent….To suggest that refusing to toss out his integrity in service to partisan retribution makes Sen. Graham less than conservative bespeaks worlds about those making the suggestion: It puts them out on the fringe of reality, along with the folks who apparently think the president traveled back in time and planted false articles in newspapers announcing his birth in Hawaii….Our politicians always have given South Carolinians too many reasons to be embarrassed. Lindsey Graham is an exception. We are fortunate to have as our senator the most articulate advocate in the Senate of integrity and adherence to the very constitutional principles that the retributionists claim to be defending….”

*NOTE:  The Pink Flamingo is something of an “expert” on historic fashion.  I am having a mind block over the color that edged the togas of Roman Senators.  Checking various sources, I can come up with three answers, red, purple, or a purplish red.