Does anyone in a Shakespeare play foretell President George W. Bush, who has not only committed more forces to his catastrophic war in Iraq, but now also threatens to attack Iran and Syria?

I put the question to Homer D. (Murph) Swander, a long-time friend and professor emeritus who taught Shakespeare at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“Henry IV,” Murph told me. “He squeaked into the kingship (in his own words) by ‘bypaths and indirect crooked ways.’ W. should be so honest.

“Henry, then being on his deathbed, advised his son to ‘busy giddy minds / with foreign quarrels.’ The father-son relationship is upside down, of course, but we can’t have everything.

“At the last, the old boy prayed, ‘How came I by the crown, O God forgive.’ Is it possible to imagine W. ever being so honest?”

(All of this to be found in Henry IV, Part Two, 4.5.184-218.)