It’s a bad sign when you get halfway through a presidential campaign with no sages wagging their heads sagaciously as they cite Lord Acton. No wonder the politicians get away with so much. Their consciences have not had to reconcile with the most profound political sagacity of modern times. To wit: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The great English historian delivered this pronouncement in a letter to his friend Bishop Mandell Creighton. I’m not aware of any instance in which the words have suffered intellectual rebuff — probably because they illuminate such occasions as the Supreme Court put on display this week.
A pity our distinguished historian wasn’t there himself to put a few questions to the solicitor general, who was then urging the justices to uphold President Obama’s plan for giving millions of undocumented aliens the right to work legally in the United States — on grounds that the president thought doing it was a good idea!