In what has become sacred tradition in the opinion world, pundits are once again filling airspace and column inches with something resembling astrology: the discussion of things that happen in August--or don't. From James Wolcott's enraged asides
--"and the Financial Times had better fucking shape up
, I don't care if it's August"--to columnists reworking T.S. Eliot poems, the month certainly isn't short on coverage. Not wanting to let the readers down, the Atlantic Wire presents a selection of commentators commenting on the lack of commentable content:
- August Is the Cruelest Month So Gail Collins titled her August 7 op-ed. "Protesters are following members of Congress around this summer," she wrote, and "claim to be following the great American tradition of dissent. This must refer to the time back in colonial days when our founding fathers disguised themselves as Indians and broke up a public hearing on a plan for national health care, which involved regulating the price of leeches. If nothing else, they're certainly scaring the heck out of the vacationing legislators."
- April Is the Cruelest Month, But August Is the Dumbest "When it comes to rational people," grumbled Meghan Daum of the Los Angeles Times, "August isn't so hot." She coined the term "August personality" to refer to those like Orly Taitz, who "gain traction because they're just nonsensical and bizarre enough to
fit the 'man bites dog' profile and, oh yes, no one else bothered to
show up." Wondering whether the "birther" was "certifiable," Daum came to the following conclusion:
What is certain is that every August (come home, shrinks!), the
public's wackadoo threshold reliably goes up. And though we can only
hope that next year's August personality won't be quite as xenophobic
as Taitz, you have to admit she's pretty entertaining, in a
summer-disaster-movie kind of way.
- A Good Month For Bad News, the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum agreed. But bad news doesn't just mean ridiculous news. Applebaum told the public to watch for crises in Iran, Georgia, Afghanistan, and Iraq:
Yes, nothing happens in August--except, as we all know, when something really terrible happens in August. World War I began in August, Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait began
in August, al-Qaeda was preparing to bring down the World Trade Center
in August. Nor is this an accident: If you want to surprise any
American administration, do something nasty while the president is on
We are left, therefore, with David Plotz's conclusion
: "The United States desperately needs August Reform." We need August Reform as a conversation topic, if nothing else; apparently in want of new material, Slate has republished Plotz's August Reform manifesto year after year as the tedious month rolls around, leaving Choire of the Awl in an even more pitiable of states
--waiting for the August reprint of reasons to get rid of August.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
hhorn at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.