The best barometer I know of for detecting truly apocalyptic maelstroms is the almost supernaturally unflappable E.J. Dionne. So often have I sat in awe of the man's gentle intellectualism, soft persuasion and charitable reflection as the world went brutally berserk, I've lost count. He's a Niebuhrian monument to rhetorical restraint. Hence when Dionne's emotional needle begins pegging, something real and really nasty is probably up.
Such a rarity occurred yesterday. With elements of unmistakable panic, Dionne aggressively confronted the "profoundly radical and, indeed, crazy ... right-wing extremists" who are inflicting a "reign of intimidation" on "our great constitutional system," whose "roots' will be "ripp[ed] up" if Republicans "who know better" don't put this rebellion down. Otherwise, and this is the upshot, "we will face one unnecessary crisis after another"--until the system is no more.
Ultimately, Dionne also encounters the same obstacle that John Boehner does. House moderates, he urges, "need to overcome their abject fear of Republicans who are under Cruz-control and their cheerleaders in Rush Limbaugh’s world." Yet it's the backwater, extremist rabble that is motivated and it's the rabble that votes. The moderates' secular fears are not unfounded, and seldom do promises of divine grace in political afterlives suppress all-too human cowardice.
Still, something's gotta give--and give it shall, in time, though even Dionne's patience is running out. And that, in itself, as they say, speaks volumes.