Another week has evaporated into the ozone like the final burst of a spent lightbulb and the enormity and ugliness of the human saga continued in all parts of the world and our little corner of it.
I’ve felt like I’m suffering a rare and deadly form of mental jet lag for weeks, but everyone insists it’s just the jitters of hurtling toward graduation with no solid prospects.
These are hard and dangerous times. The recession has thrown a bucket of icewater on a nation of couch potatoes and broke open the hornet’s nest of the American psyche. Hard times were not supposed to happen after WW II. People are mad. Mad at the Japanese, mad at the statehouses, mad at the world.
Worse still, we are stuck in this without our usual whipping boys. No Iraquis or Central American narco-generals. Even the Soviet Union, the reliable “evil empire” for 75 years, has packed up its toys and gone home.
Like cornered, desperate animals, people are turning on each other. Too much negativity is hanging in the air. In offices everywhere people are screaming early in the morning and beating inanimate objects.
Soon even English professors and nuns will be fighting with homemade shanks and broken bottles like inmates in a prison yard.
In more concrete news, it seems there are still samples of the smallpox virus tucked away in Atlanta and Moscow.
Smallpox, for those who don’t like history, was one of the great plagues. A disease that killed and disfigured millions at a time, including about half of the early Native Americans. It made AIDS look like a nuisance.
It was also the only such disease to be completely eliminated through world-wide vaccination. Some warped germ warfare types and sappy sentimental scientists are reluctant to kill it off and render it completely extinct. The things people will hang onto.
The Bill Clinton soap opera continues. The Democrats’ only big name stands to get sunk by a sleazy tabloid story accusing him of having a twelve-year affair with Gennifer Flowers.
Worse yet, people take it as gospel. Clinton had better play this carefully. The Victorian element in this country is ruthless and has hung many a politician accused of grabassing. Especially those caught in a lie.
Of course the fact that Flowers was paid something like $50,000 had nothing to do with it. Any Pulitzer prize winner will tell you that even the most reliable sources sometimes need a five or six-figure prybar to talk.
For fifty big ones most people will come up with a pretty convincing story that Mother Theresa is the antichrist in disguise.
If the allegations are true, and he comes clean about it, bully for him. Evidence of marriage troubles or some minor vice should be not only tolerated, but required of officials. Like a pulse, they are reassuring signs of humanity. Besides, marriage for most people is an archaic institution like slavery.
Chasing around might have eased Nixon’s paranoia and prevented him and others from taking indecent liberties with the other 200 million of us.