A great many people have heard of the Ides of March. Few know what it actually means. The term itself would probably have been lost to any but the most ardent Roman scholars had it not been for Shakespeare’s play, “The Tragedy Of Julius Caesar” which was very likely first performed in 1599 and from there has been a staple in the study of drama ever since. In Act 1, Scene 2, a Soothsayer twice warns Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March.” But Caesar, at the prodding of Brutus, ignores the man and his advice. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of history knows what happened after that, Caesar was murdered by his friend Brutus, among others.
The Ides of March fall on the fifteenth of the month. From what we know, the Romans not only acknowledged the Ides of March, they labeled the middle of several months with the same term respectively. Ever practical, the Romans split the months in two so that the Ides were essentially a middle day, sometimes extended to two or three, when all accounts were settled, including disagreements adjudicated in their courts of law. Thus the Soothsayer’s warning to Caesar that he should beware the day for all the accounts against him would be settled on it.
There is another aspect of the Ides, perhaps more esoteric than practical, but no less real as a warning. The Ides have come down to us as a portent of misfortune, something evil coming our way, something over which we have little or no control, but something for which we should at least be somewhat prepared.
When the Soothsayer warns Caesar, it isn’t to frighten him, nor is it a matter of audience edification, for the warning comes with nothing more, no explanation, nothing. Of course it wouldn’t have served Shakespeare’s purpose in any way to have added more material at that point. The play would have suffered immeasurably had he suggested the subject of the warning. Suspense after all is drama’s best friend.
In real life however, drama is to be excluded from the business and political affairs of men. It is an impediment to the decision-making process since it has a tendency to become more important than the issue or problem to be addressed or solved. Oftentimes, drama is employed to hide incompetence, the idea being to direct attention to the show instead of the substance. This is especially true in the Obama administration.
At no time in American history, with the exception of the Clinton years perhaps, has there been an effort to obfuscate using drama to hide total incompetence as there has been with the Obama administration. The sheer number of times Mr. Obama has had to claim he didn’t know about something tells all the tale one needs to hear. “I didn’t know” is a dramatic excuse for total incompetence.
The problem with Obama and his people is that they believe drama is the solution. Pass Obamacare, perhaps the worst piece of legislation in American history, but do it in circus style with Nancy Pelosi et. al. strutting their way to the White House, giant gavel in her hand. Then show Barack Obama signing the legislation using a small black child as his prop to show how his healthcare insurance plan will help, well, small black children. The symbolism is so obvious, even the drama smacks of incompetence. Then when it comes time to roll out the program, no one knows how to do it because actually creating the program required no drama whatsoever, thus, no one cared. But such incompetence inevitably runs up against the walls of reality. Dealing with that reality, according to the Obama manual, requires a simple exercise in more drama, but not quite the kind Obama likes. His answer, “I didn’t know” is beginning to feel a little hackneyed. The more hackney, the less dramatic impact.
The IRS scandal, and it is indeed a scandal, provided its own drama. Obama’s response to the Gestapo-like activities of a bureaucracy under his aegis required more dramatic spin, but all he could come up with was another claim he didn’t know what was happening. In spite of his ignorance, he would certainly do something about it now that he knew. As time passed however and the need for drama subsided, when asked why nothing had been done he announced there was no need because no one did anything wrong. This is when drama becomes an exercise in careless, indifferent cynicism.
But now we have a very different matter before us, something that cannot be handled with typical Obama drama. The Ides of March are upon us all, not just because of Obama’s incompetence although it speaks directly to it, but also because of his naiveté and the weakness that is the hallmark of a man without substance much less character. These are the days of accounting, the days when all other business is put on hold so as to clear up the outstanding issues which demand attention. The problem is, there are far too many accounts to deal with effectively and no one of competence in authority to deal with them in any case.
Obama’s apologists are claiming there is nothing he can do about the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Many on the right, so completely emasculated by political correctness and the media, are of the same mind. It’s none of our business, they say. The same level of weakness and idiocy occupied the White House in 1938 when Hitler annexed the Sudetenland portion of Czechoslovakia under a similar pretext as the one Putin is using on the Crimean region of the Ukraine. For those unfamiliar with the Ides of March, 1939 (March 16, 1939), Hitler’s Wehrmacht invaded and occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia until the end of World War II after which it fell under Soviet control for the next 70 years.
Obama’s feckless approach to almost every issue the United States has faced during his tenure is evidenced by his dramatic lack of success in almost everything he does. And when it becomes clear the reality of his actions run in absolute counterpoint to his portrayal of them, he and his people turn to what they know and believe in, more drama. While he aimlessly stumbles and fumbles about he even manages to mismanage his fundamental transformation of America. Not only does he not deal with Republicans in the House of Representatives, his ignorance of how to deal with opposition is displayed in a childish petulance akin to locking himself in a closet and refusing to breathe until he gets his way.
The drama intended in Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Julius Caesar is meant to entertain and enlighten his audience. Entertain for the obvious reason, enlighten in that the universality of his message is summed up in the Soothsayer’s warning to “Beware the Ides of March.” But the difference between Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and the Barack Obama we are forced to endure is the former’s disregard for the inherent drama in the warning’s reality and the latter’s regard for drama to the total exclusion of reality.
In another of Shakespeare’s plays, Prince Hamlet exclaims, “…the play’s the thing.” Often the line is misunderstood and misused, but as an illustration of how Barack Obama sees the world, it works well if slightly out of context from the purpose in the play. The play is indeed the thing to Barack Obama, all we can hope for is the remaining acts of the Obama drama are short.