Although Dick Cavett in his NYT commentary is thinking only--I think--about gun violence when he writes "Is it too dramatic to ask what rough beast is gnawing at the soul of America?" Charles Blow answers, in a way, that for many of us seems none too dramatic and almost wholly explanatory: "Rhetorically, the G.O.P. is the party of calamity. The sky is always falling. Everything is broken. Freedoms are eroding. Tomorrow is dimmer than today."
Pondering American violence is but a part of the general gloom which has settled on the exhausted brains of everyone who tries to keep up. It's overwhelming. We just endured a two-year campaign that (or so went its theme) would resolve the question of America's philosophical direction for at least the next two years, and yet the daily news teems with nearly nothing but the GOP's abiding, rhetorical debauchery--and calamity, and falling sky, and broken everything, and eroding freedoms, and the endlessly bellowed ghastliness that tomorrow is indeed dimmer than today.
Republicans' rhetorical as well as procedural debauchery never even slows, let alone stops. It pounds, it grinds, and it wears the hell out of everyone who follows the circus. When we're not being treated to the attempted humiliation of a universally applauded secretary of state, the president's defense nominee is subjected to an unprecedented gauntlet or his nominated consumer advocate--a consumer advocate for Christ's sake--is blocked or now, yep, his three-times confirmed treasury pick has "got to still answer some questions or we may have to postpone the hearing."
And as this shit never stops all the other crap keeps running--from the enormously idiotic austerity of an enormously idiotically named "sequestration" to perpetual debt-ceiling collapses and impending government shutdowns and intelligent employment measures denied and on and on.
And just how much of this septic-tank loyal opposition is really necessary, even for customary partisan purposes?
So "Is it too dramatic to ask what rough beast is gnawing at the soul of America?" Not at all. And the answer is all too obvious.