I began to begin by making the observation that E.J. Dionne must be in gargantuan denial, behind the eight ball, slow on the uptake; that he's in the grip of whatever condition or cliche has prevented him from accepting -- not embracing, mind you, just accepting -- the brutal reality that the world's oldest, once-stablest democracy now routinely behaves like a prepubescent, incorrigible child.
This morning he asks: "At what point do we decide that a political system has become decadent?" He answers: "The breaking point for me was the Anthony Weiner story." Well, then, that's his breaking point. Who am I to decide for another the proper tolerance level? Thus I cannot in good conscience attest that Dionne is in denial, etc., etc.; I can only swear that his tolerance is made of much sturdier stuff than mine.
My personal breaking point? My answer is regrettably imprecise. Yet, I would imagine some qualified psychiatrist somewhere would encourage at least an attempt in some form of some sort of stream of consciousness. Hidden bugaboos and lurking boogeymen and all that come out in mental abandon, don't you know, or so we're told. So I'll make a brief attempt -- I'll take my psychiatric one-hour allotment -- after first reconceding that there isn't really an "answer" to our decided decadence, since we all have our individual breaking points.
I heard my first unmistakable crack a bit more than 10 years ago, when a colossally corrupt U.S. Supreme Court not only single-handedly determined that the ineffably dimwitted George W. Bush should be president of these United States, but that its reasoning process in arriving at that staggering electoral insult should be forever regarded by future courts as sui generis, since the reasoning process was, like George W. Bush, so ineffably dimwitted. I consoled myself at the time with historical coddling: from county clerkships to the U.S. presidency, the American art of stealing elections has been a long and noble one; and besides, quite often the racketeering thiefs turned out to be not half bad as respectable officeholders.
So even though I had heard a crack -- even though I had, in fact, suffered an undeniable breaking point -- I further consoled myself with the Twainian thought that, like Wagner, perhaps Bush would be better than he sounded. Oh, what a misjudgment, or rather, what a false hope. He was worse, far worse, as in galactically far worse, and behind him he harbored a Congress-full of either likeminded ideological nincompoops or spinelessly loyal oppositionists willing to grant their imprimatur to virtually every imbecilic Bushian impulse.
A plenary listing of our young century's imbecilities conceived and orchestrated by Mr. Bush exceeds my time, my space, my emotional endurance and even our collective knowledge. Historians, for decades to come, will be unfoldingly horrified and appalled at the Bush administration's alternating recklessness and indifference; levels that make James Buchanan, by comparison, look like a Lincoln. From W.'s deliberate reversal of our fiscal health, to invading the wrong country, to Constitutional violations committed with a transcendentally arrogant shrug and a sneer, in general his trangressions against law, both domestic and foreign, as well as against human decency and just plain common sense -- taken together, the Bush-Cheney record of achievement is as degenerately sui generis as was its extralegal conception.
Perhaps worse, we reelected these buffooons, subsequent to appreciating just how immmensely boneheaded and corrupt they were. Added to that additional breaking point of 2004 was our national mini-stroke-slash-nervous breakdown of 2010 and, well, you get the diagnostic picture.
And I'm supposed to be upset by Anthony Weiner's cyberboners? Is Dionne kidding me? But, as both Dionne and I have so graciously conceded, to each his own, and unto each of us comes our own peculiar breaking points.
The one intervening salvation, of course, was our restoration of presidential gracefulness, executive competence and pragmatic reason in 2008. Barack Obama is doing his damnedest to make it all better, to heal the wounds, to correct our course and put the ethical, socioeconomic and loosely philosophical meaning of "super" back into "superpower." If he's unsuccessful -- if the ruggedly ignorant Americanism of tea partyism, Cantorism, McConnellism and Romneyism or T-Pawism proves to be insurmountable -- then that compound noun of once-great distinction will not improbably become a thing of the irretrievable past.
I'm sorry, but I see that my hour is up.