Finding the Art in Everything

19 November, 2007

If only No. 10 were my address...

I am sorry to say it seems my strange affection for British Prime Ministers goes beyond Tony Blair (and my appreciation for Tony Blair is more than unreasonable--some say disturbing) . I have seen the movie Amazing Grace four times this week (because I am showing it in my classes), and my favorite character in it is Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger.

In addition to finding his movie portrayal charming, , he was single--I mean--I would have liked his politics. I am reading a biography of William Wilberforce, and I am pleased to find much of the dialogue in the movie is taken directly from historical documents of the time. This means that I get to like the historical figure instead of just his portrayal in the movie. And he was quite the historical figure: He was prime minister during the Act of Union with Ireland, but he also stood up for the rights of the Catholics. Though he died before slavery was abolished, he was instrumental in Wilberforce's success. He was loyal to the king, even in George III's madness.

Admittedly historical accounts (here, here, and here) are mixed on his overall sucess as a PM, but historical commentary suggests it was because he was a statesman, and not a politician. The difference between the two terms is more than semantic: a statesman demonstrates great wisdom, ability and experience in the art of government, and a politician is someone who is more concerned with winning favor than with governing. What Britain needed during the tumultuous time of the early 19th century was a statesman, and this is what America needs at turn of the 21st. From a political and a quirky personal standpoint, wisdom, ability, and experience are attractive qualities in a man--a confession which betrays my preference for older men.

Perhaps developing an appreciation-turned-crush on historical figures is a hazard of being a twenty-something single history teacher. There is a small chance that I like Pitt because I find the actor (who was recently featured in a Times article) for him attractive. It's unlikely, but I hope that is it. It would make my ministerial fixation a lot easier to explain.

No comments: