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The Play's The Thing

Sitting on the hill with the lake in view, sipping a cup of wine and waiting for the show to begin always encourages comparisons with today’s politics—a mind game as entertaining as the play itself.

Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Richard III brings to light some comparisons with the Obama/Romney election. While the play’s ending is similar to Macbeth, in which the forces of good win out in the end, President Obama’s track record that likens him most to the ruthlessly evil Richard.

Before becoming King Richard III, Richard is Duke of Gloucester, and, as did President Obama in his 2008 campaign, he makes weighty promises for change. The Duke makes a mockery of language, his words are so filled with deception. He has Queen Elizabeth’s husband, King Edward IV, killed, and yet successfully woos her in his drive to be king himself. As she glowers in hatred for him, he says, “But ’twas thy beauty that provoked me…’twas I that stabb’d young Edward”( I.ii.).

Likewise, we who expected change from President Obama’s election were woo’d and succumbed by words never meant to be fulfilled.

I’m not saying Mitt Romney (Macbeth) is better than King Richard III (Obama), but we were promised “not a dime for Washington lobbyists” and yet they are writing the banking regulations for their own benefit. Lobbyists are writing the legislation for healthcare prescriptions for their benefit and keeping the single-payer option off the table. We we promised that America, as the preeminent world power, would no longer provoke preemptive wars, and yet, worse than President Bush’s attacks, Obama’s drone bombings have increased Middle East hostilities, and US-encouraged regime change continues to bring chaos in Honduras, Libya, Syria, Iran…

Queen Elizabeth’s ghost coming back to haunt King Richard would be a welcomed voice for President Obama to heed in the upcoming political act.

> Ray Peterson, Buffalo

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