About that Trump as Caesar Thing…

If you haven’t noticed it, here’s the story via the NYT:  Two Protesters Disrupt ‘Julius Caesar’ in Central Park and another version via BoGlo: Knives are out for theaters that bear the name ‘Shakespeare’.  The result has been a lot of sturm und drang on TV and online, and the pulling of sponsorships.

In reviewing the various responses online and on TV about the terrible nature of a Trumpesque Caesar, please note the following recent examples of using contemporary politicians as Caesar.

Via BroadwayWorld:

BroadwayWorld has learned that in their 2012 season, during which Delta Airlines was a Business Circle sponsor – The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis presented an Obama inspired Julius Caesar co-produced with The Acting Company.


MSP Mag described the production in a review: “And, because Caesar is cast as a tall, lanky black man, the Obama inference is a bit too obvious. But it fits, sort of. Like Caesar, Obama rose to power on a tide of public goodwill; like Caesar, there were many in government who doubted Obama’s leadership abilities; and now that Obama’s first term has failed to live up to the messianic hype, there are plenty of people who-for the good of the country, you understand, not their own glory-want to take Obama down.”

And this via The Atlantic:

In 2015, a production of Julius Caesar at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence gave a spin to the Shakespearian history play by reimagining the title character as a woman. The show was largely interpreted by critics to be referencing Hillary Clinton, especially considering that when its “Caesar” was murdered at the beginning of Act Three she was wearing a striking white pantsuit.

Perhaps most significantly, from the same piece:

Many commentators have argued that, rather than advocate for the assassination of a controversial political figure, Julius Caesar does the opposite, warning of the chaos that comes from such action.

Indeed, as Dan Nexon noted

A bunch of far-right agitators tried to shut down a play that represents Trump as a master military leader and politician, brought down by jealousy and fear, and whose murder ushers in dictatorial empire.

It is as if the protesters in question are unfamiliar with the play or something. (Not too mention the salient fact that one of the main agitators is Jack Posobiec, a promoter of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory).



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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. CSK says:

    I assume you’re either being facetious or engaging in extreme understatement when you say that “the protesters in question are unfamiliar with the play.”

  2. michael reynolds says:

    I object on the grounds that Caesar was a brilliant soldier and politician with numerous real world accomplishments, (Gaulish views may vary) while Trump is a game show host.

  3. @CSK: A bit of both.

    @michael reynolds: Indeed.

  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    Related Onion story:

    Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play In Time, Place Shakespeare Intended

    In an innovative, tradition-defying rethinking of one of the greatest comedies in the English language, Morristown Community Players director Kevin Hiles announced Monday his bold intention to set his theater’s production of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in 16th-century Venice.

    “I know when most people hear The Merchant Of Venice, they think 1960s Las Vegas, a high-powered Manhattan stock brokerage, or an 18th-century Georgia slave plantation, but I think it’s high time to shake things up a bit,” Hiles said. “The great thing about Shakespeare is that the themes in his plays are so universal that they can be adapted to just about any time and place.”

    According to Hiles, everything in the production will be adapted to the unconventional setting. Swords will replace guns, ducats will be used instead of the American dollar or Japanese yen, and costumes, such as Shylock’s customary pinstripe suit, general’s uniform, or nudity, will be replaced by garb of the kind worn by Jewish moneylenders of the Italian Renaissance.

  5. CSK says:

    These are the kind of people who not only take pride in being semi-literate rubes but equate being a semi-literate rube with being a patriotic American. Appreciate art, music, literature? You’re not a real American–you’re a European Commie faggot.

  6. Margi Cowells says:

    FYI: “sturm und drang” not “strum und drang”

  7. Mr Bluster says:

    Apparently Pud’s Puppets can dish it out but they just can’t take it!

    “They shouted out ‘Build a wall’ and, kind of, shoved my drink at me and then all of the baristas in the back started cracking up laughing,”

    BOO! HOO! HOO!

  8. Hal_10000 says:

    Look, this isn’t rocket science. Conservatives should be able to speak without being shouted down. Liberals should be able to speak without being shouted down. If you disagree with them, get your own microphone and speak (hopefully without being shouted down).

  9. @Margi Cowells: Thanks for catching that.

  10. James Pearce says:


    Look, this isn’t rocket science.

    Perhaps it’s rocket surgery, though?

    (Honestly, I think these guys saw what happened in Berkeley and went, “My turn.” That’s not an argument that this is all the Berkeley protesters fault. It’s an argument for a smarter politics that doesn’t take it as a given that we all get to take turns being idiots.)

    @Margi Cowells:

    FYI: “sturm und drang” not “strum und drang”

    Actually my band’s new record is, indeed, called Strum und Drang, only with unnecessary umlauts over the vowels.

  11. Hal_10000 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Heh. I always like to use rocket science because, while I’m not technically a rocket scientist, I’ve been on proposals for rocket missions. So it always sets up an, “Actually, I *am* a rocket scientist.”

  12. rachel says:

    @michael reynolds: Yeah, but Shakespeare didn’t write a play about Caligula, so what’re they gonna do?

  13. James Pearce says:


    I’ve been on proposals for rocket missions.

    I work a few blocks from ULA, so I’m merely “rocket scientist adjacent.” I do, however, perform rocket surgery on DCP players and the automation devices that operate them, though.

    Or at least it seems like it.

  14. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    Since so many here don’t want to admit what’s really going on here, it befalls me to say the unspeakable.

    This is merely the beginning of the application of Game Theory (“Tit For Tat”) and Alinsky’s 4th Rule: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

    When leftists rioted to keep Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at Berkeley, burning and trashing the campus, hardly no one on the left said a word.

    When leftists at Middlebury College rioted to keep Charles Murray from speaking, even sending one professor to the hospital, hardly no one on the left said a word.

    Over the last year, as more and more leftists have carried out more and more violent attacks on conservatives, Trump supporters, and Republicans in general, hardly a word was spoken.

    What happened to the Shakespeare performance last week was a few people chose to take advantage of certain tactics that have become acceptable and even commonplace when leftists are somehow offended. And it is a warning.

    The warning: mainstream left, rein in your dangerous nuts. Clean your own house. Or end up on the receiving end of their tactics — the ones you don’t object to when applied against your chosen targets.

    This time, a couple of people stood up and interrupted a play, and went quietly when asked to leave. I don’t believe the next incident will be as peaceful.

    Oh, and those trite comparisons of New York’s Shakespeare In The Park with Podunk Providence and Minneapolis? They weren’t part of any large-scale assassination porn by highly prominent entertainers. Since Trump has been elected, he has (by proxy) been shot in the head by Snoop Dog, beheaded by Kathy Griffin (in a very ISIS-like display), and now stabbed to death in Central Park. And just last week a Bernie Sanders volunteer tried to assassinate a whole group of Republican lawmakers.

    Now will you try to police your own side, or do you want things to continue to escalate?

  15. James Pearce says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    The warning: mainstream left, rein in your dangerous nuts.

    Well, it doesn’t work that way, and the parental scolding “warning” language is no real help.

    This is how we end this stuff: Whether it’s coming from the left or the right, you denounce it. You don’t hit the “like” button.

    And honestly…I wish I hadn’t pushed the like button on your comment. It started off with a good point, but by the end, it was off the rails with a vaguely threatening tone, like:

    Now will you try to police your own side, or do you want things to continue to escalate?

    The only way this is not going to escalate is if there’s a consensus on both sides that free speech is sacrosanct.

    So let’s move away from the lame tit for tat justifications, and reacquaint ourselves with first principles. When Milo speaks at Berkeley and Shakespeare in the Park depicts Trump’s assassination, you get to go home and write about it on Facebook, but nobody gets to shut anyone else up.

    How’s that sound?

  16. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @James Pearce:

    How’s that sound?

    It sounds like you’re more bothered by your taxpayer-subsidized Trump assassination porn was interrupted for a few minutes than people being sent to the hospital because their assailants didn’t like what they were saying.

    But don’t worry, condemning the disruption of the Trump assassination porn is on my list of things to do. It’s just way, way, way down on my list of priorities. I don’t like it, but it has become normalized as an acceptable practice.

    And here’s a question for you: if a conservative or a Trump supporter or a Republican making any kind of expression be confronted by a leftist, in light of recent developments, should they be in fear of their safety? And, should said leftist be masked, should that affect their reaction?

  17. James Pearce says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    if a conservative or a Trump supporter or a Republican making any kind of expression be confronted by a leftist, in light of recent developments, should they be in fear of their safety?

    There is no reason for people on the right to be “in fear of their safety” when it comes to the church ladies of the left. They are meek, easily distracted, and in no mood for a fight.

    Padlock man and the Scalise shooter are rare and violent exceptions to what is otherwise a rather docile and pacific movement.

    I know it’s weird, but I’m a big proponent of the idea that if people are allowed an outlet for their primitive aggressions, they won’t indulge in actual, society-killing violence. So yes to football –simulated tribal combat– and yes to heavy metal and yes to violent movies and yes to bad words and pornography and the Milo speeches and the Trump plays.

    Don’t be scared. This is how we created our civilization.

  18. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @James Pearce: “Padlock man and the Scalise shooter are rare and violent exceptions to what is otherwise a rather docile and pacific movement.”

    Padlock man and the Scalise shooter and the MAGA truck shooter and the Berkeley rioters and the Middlebury rioters and all of these isolated examples of “a rather docile and pacific movement.”

    Yes, these are a minority. But they are a growing minority, and nobody’s trying to check them.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000: Sorry, no. In a decent society some people, like the aforementioned Jack Posobiec or the currently relevant Alex Jones, would be ostracized.

  20. The whole “tit for tat” thesis and blaming this on the anti-Milo protests are both just ways to deflect and try and blame “The Left’ as if it is some centrally controlled monolith and even give some consumers of certain media platforms the right to semi-root for these protests (after all, they are only happening because of The Left!).

    The reality is this:

    1) As my post clearly shows, this isn’t assassination porn. Indeed, the murder of Caesar is part of why the play is a tragedy. It is NOT celebrating assassination.

    2) One of the way protesters, Jack Posobiec, is a product of the Inforwars, etc. feverswamp. His gripe on reality is tenuous.

    In regards to #2: it is weird that anyone on “The Right” (if we are going to play that game) wants to even semi-claim these people. So instead of tit-for-tat arguments, why no decry a bunch of nuts for misbehaving in public?

  21. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: @Bob The Arqubusier:

    And honestly…I wish I hadn’t pushed the like button on your comment. It started off with a good point, but by the end, it was off the rails with a vaguely threatening tone, like:

    Now will you try to police your own side, or do you want things to continue to escalate?

    Part of the problem is that some of us have started deeply regretting our role in stopping Angela and Huey from burning the sucka to the ground 50-some years ago. We’re tired of being the only adults in the room–and conveniently enough, have entered the period of our lives some societies call “second childhood.” Laissez les bon temps rouler!

  22. Mr Bluster says:

    …why no(t) decry a bunch of nuts for misbehaving in public?

    We can start by denouncing our pervert president who has publicly stated:

    “I think her bodyguards should drop all weapons. Disarm immediately,” Trump said. “Take their guns away, let’s see what happens to her.”
    “Take their guns away, OK? It’ll be very dangerous,” he added.

    “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously,” Trump said. “Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”

  23. karl Derums says:

    Dear Stephen
    This is the first time I have ever posted on any web site. I find it most interesting, there seems to be less harshness, than both the left and right sites have. I hope to help it stay so. I have over the years had numerous contacts with Stalinist communism, Hitler fascism, and Ho chi minh communism .Most of my family died at their hands, and I too almost died. This being said. I can not say I hate them. This web site addressing today’s problems is a good way to avoid more and greater problems .Intelligence must be tempered with experience ( The fool thinks he is wise man the wise man knows he is a fool) W.S.
    please forgive my grammar. Karlis Derums

  24. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t recall any articles here decrying the increasingly violent attempts to silence conservatives/Trump supporters before this week and the attempted mass assassination of Republican members of Congress by a former Bernie Sanders supporter. (I might have missed them; if so, I apologize.) However, the peaceful civil disobedience of a brief interruption of this play did draw attention.

    One explanation for this dichotomy is that the authors here don’t care for this kind of civil disobedience, but don’t have a problem with violent confrontations.

    Another is that the authors have an ideological prejudice against the right, and don’t approve of them acting up — but don’t mind when they are attacked.

    I don’t like either of those explanations, as they reflect rather poorly on the authors. I would prefer if a third alternative were proffered.

    My personal fear is that this is merely the first step of conservatives deciding that they are going to adapt the tactics that have been used against them for the past year or so. The argument that “we’re better than that” and “we’re not going to sink to their level” lose a lot of their appeal when the other side is constantly breaking the rules and constantly getting away with it.

    These rules are not some idealistic set of principles. They’re a Mutual Assured Destruction pact — “we won’t do this if you won’t do this.” It’s why neither side used chemical weapons in World War II, despite both sides having ample stockpiles. And if there is no enforcement or threat of reciprocity, then there’s no cost for breaking the rules — and tremendous benefits to breaking the rules.

    So I see two outcomes: the radicals on the left tone it down and resume following the previously-accepted rules of conduct, or radicals on the right will start following their example and ignoring the previously-accepted rules of conduct as well.

    I don’t think anyone wants the latter. I certainly don’t. But I don’t see a way to avoid it.

  25. @Bob The Arqubusier: You have an odd and unhelpful way of making it sound like everything can be reduced to two options.

    The thing is I reject your entire premise that what we are seeing here is some kind of easy dichotomy.

    You might want to start with not including people like Milo and Posobiec as part of your “side”–I certainly don’t include violent agitators and purveyors of conspiracy theories as part of mine.

    And this post really isn’t about the event in question, but responses to it. Context about the play and recent usages of political imagery are rather relevant–although you seem to be buying into the notion that this was uniquely anti-Trump. Context says otherwise. Facts matter.

    And after having blogged for over thirteen years I can assure you that lack of commentary on a given event means nothing in particular. Real life, and all that.

  26. (actually, over 14 years).

  27. Mr Bluster says:

    Republican candidate for president Trump stated that he did not want his political opponent to have armed protection during the campaign.

    take their guns away let’s see what happens to her.

    He was calling for her assassination.
    The most influential advocate for political violence in this country today lives in the White House.

  28. Mr Bluster says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:..I can assure you that lack of commentary on a given event means nothing in particular.

    I have never read any post by Blunderbuss Bob (it’s not as long as he thinks it is) condemning child pornography. By his reasoning (?) I must assume he is in favor of it.

  29. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Then let me cast my references to those ever-increasingly-violent incidents as context. More and more people have felt more and more empowered to shut down speech they don’t like through threats of violence and actual violence, and they have been, by and large, unchecked. So a couple of people decided to adapt the same tactics and disrupt (calmly, briefly, and non-violently) a form of speech that they found offensive. (I’m with them on that part — while I recognize the validity of your citation of Shakespeare’s original intent, I sincerely doubt that many of the audience were saying “how horrible, that Trump surrogate is getting murdered!” and instead thrilled to be present at such a daring, edgy, bold presentation.)

    I expect we’ll see more people from the right choosing to follow the precedents those on the left have set. I anticipate future speeches by luminaries like Elizabeth Warren, Tom Perez, and others be targeted for rigorous protests.

    (Figures like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would have too much security for such moves, but the second tier and lower will be easier.)

  30. @Bob The Arqubusier:

    I expect we’ll see more people from the right choosing to follow the precedents those on the left have set.

    The reality is, I am not sure one can find the exact starting spot for political violence, or ascribe it to a particular ideological persuasion. Further, I would again note that you radically oversimplify the world by pretending like all of American politics fits neatly into a dichotomous “left and and right.”

    Beyond any of that, I suppose you were equally upset with candidate Trump’s rhetoric of violence on the campaign trail?

  31. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Mr Bluster: Feel free to assume that I am quite satisfied with the status quo vis-a-vis child pornography. There are some tangential issues that I am ambivalent about — for example, underage teens sending nudes of themselves essentially means that they can be charged as an adult for exploiting their juvenile selves, which is an intellectually amusing paradox — but, in general, I’m OK with child porn’s existing legal and social status.

    But it’s thoughtful of you to ask.

  32. Quite frankly, you sound like someone who is consuming far too much right-wing media.

  33. JohnMcC says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Excellent diagnosis.

  34. gVOR08 says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: Did you really completely miss Mr. B’s point or are you pretending to have missed it just to be an ass? Please regard this as a rhetorical question. (That means don’t answer.)

  35. Mr. Bluster says:

    The Summer Solstice arrived here in SleepyTown yesterday at 11:24 pm. I am a practicing Sun Worshiper. Today is my High Holy Day! My Mantra for the Season is “There are No Bad Days in the Summertime” and my song is Summer (War 1970).

    @gVOR08:..just to be an ass?

    He can be an ass if he thinks it is the right thing to do.
    I am not going to make it my mission to stop him.

    More War
    Spill the Wine
    Low Rider