(plural Mayberry Machiavellis)
- (pejorative) A person who furthers his cause by "reducing every issue to its simplest, black-and-white terms for public consumption", i.e., denying nuance by using stark, but false, choices. For example, if you did not support the Iraq war, you were a Saddam Hussein supporter.
"Mayberry Machiavelli" is a satirically pejorative phrase coined by John J. DiIulio Jr., Ph.D., who ran President Bush's Faith-based Initiative. After he quickly resigned from his White House post in late 2001, DiIulio told journalist Ron Suskind, "What you've got is everything--and I mean everything--being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis." "This [an "us" vs "them" attitude] gave rise to what you might call Mayberry Machiavellis — staff, senior and junior, who consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest, black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible." To an extent unseen in modern administrations, DiIulio believes that Bush's political arm (i.e., the Mayberry Machiavellis) were substitutes for a policy apparatus.
The phrase is derisively meant to invoke infamous Machiavellian-style power politics coupled with a supposed sense of incompetent regional backwardness exemplified by the fictional rural town of Mayberry, R.F.D., from The Andy Griffith Show which ran on the American television network, CBS, from 1960 - 1968. The show's character, deputy sheriff Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts) is the epitome of such ineptness as to what DiIulio referred.