Speed Reads

History Lesson

Fox's Lou Dobbs angrily compares Mitt Romney to Brutus, the senator who tried to save Rome from a despot

The Roman senator Marcus Brutus literally stabbed his friend Julius Caesar in the back. You could look at this as a great betrayal, as Lou Dobbs did on Fox Business show Wednesday night when he savaged Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) for voting to convict President Trump of abuse of power in Trump's impeachment trial. "Romney is going to be associated with Judas, Brutus, Benedict Arnold forever, when he is not even a footnote in a footnote otherwise, because of his betrayal," Dobbs said.

But Brutus, according to Shakespeare and contemporaneous accounts, was motivated to take part in Caesar's assassination because Caesar's increasingly monarchical and authoritarian behavior threatened to destroy the Roman Republic. The phrase he is purported to have said while stabbing Caesar, "Sic semper tyrannis!" — or "Thus, always, to tyrants!" — is now Virginia's official motto. On the other hand, Dante places both Brutus and Judas Iscariot in the lowest circle of hell, so it's complicated.

In any case, Caesar died and Trump was acquitted with all but one Republican voting against conviction and every Democrats voting in favor. And despite Brutus' desperate bid to save the republic, it soon fell to a Roman Empire led by Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, renamed Augustus. Brutus, like Judas, killed himself in despair. Romney, according to former adviser Stuart Stevens, "will sleep very well tonight."