Posted by Curt on 17 September, 2015 at 3:31 pm. 1 comment.


Daniel Henninger:

Frustration, anger, despair. Allow life’s negatively charged emotions to run free long enough and they all arrive at the same place—madness. We are there.

Or many of us are, in the U.S. and all over a troubled world.

Some 30% of Republican voters want as their president the former host of “Celebrity Apprentice.” About the same percentage of Democrats prefer a 74-year-old Socialist who seems to believe federal revenue is created by pixies.

The British Labour Party just cast its lot with a leader whose choice for finance minister includes among his interests “fomenting the overthrow of capitalism.” A torrent of Syrian refugees has unhinged European liberalism. Islamic State is drowning history itself in blood, while the pope is giving speeches on climate change.

Not least, the future of the slow-growth, anxiety-producing American economy is in the hands of one nice lady named Janet Yellen,who presides over what is literally a central-bank black box. Crazy.

A friend last weekend said he thought the story about the University of New Hampshire’s website publishing a bias-free language guide, which declared that use of the word “American” is “problematic,” was a hoax. Of course, it was real.

Is it trivial of me to conflate campus microaggression theory with Islamic State’s barbarism? I don’t think so. Because it is when people start to conclude that all of this stuff has rolled into a huge, spinning, out-of-control ball of incomprehension that it becomes madness.

That’s when normal people default their politics to the Howard Beale Option. Howard Beale was the anchorman gone ’round the bend in the movie “Network,” who started shouting on his broadcast one evening, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Beale’s last-straw rant is a compendium of political crises and petty annoyances that added up to a society running off the rails. Driven mad, Beale yells: “I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad!”

That was 1976. This is 2015. It’s back. What happened?

In June, Republicans were conducting a respectable competition for their presidential nomination among experienced, accomplished public figures—Govs. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Rick Perry, plus provocative newcomers such as Marco Rubio,Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and the rest.

Unnoticed then but discovered in days after Donald Trump’s Beale-like presidential announcement June 16 (“I will build a great, great wall!”) was that at least 25% of Republican voters had already gone mad. Whether angry mad or just plain crazy mad hardly matters. They’d had it, loooong before the presidential campaign started. An agog political class watched Bernie Sanders prove that 25% of Democrats were also mad as hell.


In the U.S. and Western world generally there is a spreading sense of weak or poor political leadership. Because he sits as president of the United States, the lead nation,Barack Obama bears responsibility for much of this madness. His conduct of the presidency, more than all the other pilloried persons in public life, led us to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

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