Sextili had been the name of the eighth month, but only because it was the sixth month in the Roman calendar. Wikipedia notes that "it became the eighth month when January and February were added to the year before March by King Numa Pompilius, who also gave it 29 days." Julius Caesar put in two additional days.
Sextili became August eight years after the birth of Christ to honor Emperor Augustus. While August may have worked out well for Augustus, for American politicians August tends to be a month of scandal and trouble.
Congress leaves for its August recess. The president goes on vacation. The American public gears up for school. The press corps is bored. The press, largely out of boredom, are easily steered like a pack of wolves toward August scandal. In August of 1974, Gerald Ford became president as Richard Nixon resigned in scandal. It was in August of 1998 that Bill Clinton testified before a grand jury about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. In August of 2001, Gary Condit gave an awkward interview with Connie Chung about Chandra Levy. In August of 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth showed up to make their case against John Kerry. In August of 2005, Cindy Sheehan camped outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Each time, the media whipped the related stories into a frenzy. August has become silly season for American politics.
This year, the president heads to Martha's Vineyard. Congressmen and senators head out across the nation to campaign for re-election. The border remains a national news story with neither Republicans nor Democrats taking steps to close the border as a start for further conversations. Instead, as we head toward November, Democrats worried about their fate will seek to distance themselves from President Obama. Republicans will try to find a unifying national message on which to campaign.
It is that latter point that should give Democrats reason to cheer. Byron York, recently writing in the Washington Examiner, reported Republicans are split on whether to campaign on their accomplishments or campaign against Barack Obama. In 1998, Republicans chose to campaign against Bill Clinton as he was tied up in the Lewinsky scandal. It did not work for them. They lost seats.
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