THE BLOG
09/02/2011 10:26 am ET Updated Nov 02, 2011

The Ides of August

"Caesar: 'Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry ' Caeser.' Speak; Caeser is turn'd to hear.'

"Soothsayer: 'Beware the ides of March.'"

Shakespeare had the right idea but the wrong month. It's August, not March, that the Soothsayer should have warned us about.

How could the Bard of Avon not have foreseen that the month named after the god of wars, and not that which Augustus Caesar named after himself, would imperil mankind some four centuries after he shuffled off this mortal coil?

Forsooth! But maybe he did foresee today's troubled times, even if he didn't place it them in the heat and humidity of August. For example, when he warned of natural disasters, like earthquakes:
"Some say the earth was feverish and did shake." -- Macbeth.

And hurricanes:

"Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow! You cataracts and hurricanes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!" -- King Lear

And political upheaval in the Arab world:

"I must have liberty
Withal, as large a charter as the wind
To blow on whom I please." -- As You Like It.

And scandalous behavior by powerful men like Domenic Strauss-Kahn and former Reps. Anthony Weiner and David Wu:

"Reputation, reputation, reputation! O! I have lost my reputation. I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial." -- Othello.

Or even former Vice President Dick Cheney's bitter memoirs casting blame on others for the failures of George W. Bush's administration:

"Like a dull actor now,
I have forgot my part, and I am out,
Even to a full disgrace." -- Coriolanus.

And the Bard might have had the bailout of Wall Street or the European Union's economic woes in mind when Hamlet warned:

"Neither a lender nor a borrower be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend.
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry."

And it's not far-fetched to think that Hamlet was describing President Obama's stubborn individuality:

"This above all: To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou can'st not then be false to any man."

Or perhaps the Shakespearean tragedy was speaking of the poisonous partisanship in Congress, as expressed by House Speaker John Boehner refusing to let Obama pick his time to address a joint session of Congress:

"You speak like a green girl,
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance. "

Surely, Shakespeare may also have foreseen Obama's frustration as he struggles to win Republican support for his effort to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and keep the U.S. from becoming entangled in civil wars in Libya, Egypt and Syria:

"Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as far as day
does night; it's spritely, waking, audible, and full of vent.
Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy; mulled, deaf,
sleepy, insensible; a getter of more bastard children
than war' a destroyer of men." -- Coriolanus.

And above all, the Bard would have sensed the need to end gridlock in Washington:

"On both sides, more respect." -- Coriolanus.