The Dying of the Adams Empire?

March 19, 2009

Lions die the same way as empires: weakness prompts them to feast on the easiest, smallest, weakest prey. Wounded lions can’t eat enough to stay strong.

I’m thinking of Portland’s Lion, Sam Adams. A conversation recently with a long-time Adams watcher raised the question of whether Sam will serve his full term as mayor. I was among those who hoped the bright tough Adams would hang on. But now, I’m not so sure he will remain in office.

The state of Adams’ political longevity has, at the moment, less to do with what the Attorney General’s inquiry might find and more to do with whether the Mayor has been mortally wounded by the Beau Breedlove scandal into caution, self doubt, and opportunistic choices, meaning low on the food chain wins? Machiavelli writes, in a famous chapter on "How the Strength of All Princedoms Should be Measured": “I judge those to be in constant need of help who cannot take the field against their enemies but are obliged to retire behind their walls and to defend themselves there.”

I haven’t seen much in the way of power issuing from City Hall recently. When was the last time Adams made a bold pronoucement or offered even an iota of vision? Not since he vowed to stay on. Is there a moat around Adams? What’s going on in City Hall that Portlanders can point to as visionary, moral, or high minded?

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