HISTORICAL REFERENCES crop up with surprising frequency when you talk to Joe Schneider.
I spent some time recently with Schneider, the Republican businessman and former Green Beret who is challenging Representative Seth Moulton in the race for the 6th Congressional District on Massachusetts's North Shore. We hung out for a couple of hours in a noisy Beverly diner, talking about politics and why Schneider wants to leave his successful management consulting firm, which has been advising the aerospace and defense industries for more than 30 years, to go to Washington as a freshman congressman.
Again and again, Schneider spoke of the past to make a point about the present. When our conversation turned to presidents and foreign policy, he invoked Dwight Eisenhower's response to the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Discussing the government's inability to compel economic equality, he remarked that the breakup of Standard Oil caused John D. Rockefeller's net worth to double. Ruminating on what American decline might mean for the world, he made a pungent point about the Dark Ages that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.
"If you visit a castle in Bavaria or elsewhere in Europe from that era," Schneider told me, "you see that the sanitary conditions of a prince in medieval Germany was far inferior to the sanitary conditions of a mere plebeian a thousand years earlier in Rome and Pompeii."
Henry Ford proclaimed that "history is bunk," but Schneider knows better. Indeed, it is Schneider's own history, even more than his politics, that is at the heart of his campaign for Congress. . . .