“Attentive to public opinion”
As in taking a real interest in what the public wants, or only caring about it insofar as it serves to convince the people they have their interests in mind and therefore deserve to be reelected, the truth be damned?
Attentive to public opinion, rather than public needs.
Do remember that the public is collectively a single idiot.
So the people don’t know what’s good for them? You realise that that’s exactly what your classic tyrant says to excuse themselves?
Just because tyrants are bad doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a point about the not uncommon fickleness and stupidity of the public.
I’d tend to trust the public at large more than a single tyrant. Stupidity and mental instability tend to get diluted out by the law of large numbers, while it seems historically (and with some scientific basis) that sociopaths have a disproportionate chance of taking the helm.
Even in dictatorships, the dictator never achieves (and keeps) his station without first generating a consensus among numerous powerful factions within the society that he is a good leader with their best interests at heart.
Bashar al-Assad’s regime is unquestionably a terror upon all Sunni Muslims that live within his realm, but I’ll bet there’s a lot of Sunni Syrians out there today who are wondering if it wouldn’t have been better if everyone had just sat down and shut up.