"a tin-pot Machiavelli"

 Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian Renaissance political philosopher, famous for his book The Prince (written 1513, published 1532) which was intended to advise the Florentine ruler Lorenzo de Medici. His political thought emphasised practical rather than moral actions, believing that the end (a stable political state) justified any unpleasant means adopted in its fulfilment. Because of this rather ruthless approach, his name has become synonymous with an amoral, manipulative kind of politics.