Monday, March 28, 2011

Obama depicted as Hamlet on Libya

It is predictable that, even as Qadhafi is typed as Richard III or any of a number of other Shakespearean villains, Barack Obama gets described as Hamlet.

From Hip Hop Republican, 3/22/11
A few highlights:
  • Newsweek in a piece called The Big Dither:  "The president has been more Hamlet than Macbeth since the beginning of the revolutionary crisis that has swept the desert lands of North Africa and the Middle East. To act or not to act? That has been the question. The results of his indecision have been unhappy."
  • Victor Davis Hanson generalizes the lack-of-leadership thing to Obama's presidency as a whole: "Hamlet couldn't quite ever act in time — given all the ambiguities that such a sensitive prince first had to sort out. In the meantime, a lot of bodies piled up through his indecision and hesitancy."
  • This caricature from Crystal Wright's piece at Hip Hop Republican.
  • And of course the Right Side News has to weigh in: "We have a 'Hamlet on the Potomac' in our Oval Office.  If you listen closely you can hear Obama twisting himself into knots asking the wrenching question:  'To lead… or NOT to lead?' (Our apologies to Bill Shakespeare!)"
  • Former CFR chairman Leslie Gelb begs to differ (and engages in some Shakespeare interpretation in the process).
  • And Saul Landau in Counterpunch goes even further, denouncing the whole Hamlet role as a trap into which Obama has fallen.

It's interesting to see the Anglo-American view of Hamlet as hesitator, quite at odds with the typical Arab view of Hamlet as revolutionary martyr/hero, getting a tiny bit of play in the Arabic press through translations of articles by American pundits.  Here's the one by Victor Davis Hanson (in Arabic, in the Gulf-based al-Bayan) and here's the Leslie Gelb piece on hypocrisy.

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