Washington has always had its scuffles, and the American electorate with it. But these days it seems those scuffles have become street fights more dangerous than the gang-related violence one might find in the inner cities of our nation. The scuffles have turned into downright brawls, and in an eerie way, the American people appear stunned and incapable of measured response to the scenes they are witnessing on Capitol Hill.
Last Friday night was American theater better than anything you might see at the venerable Kennedy Center. A president of the United States called a press conference in which the normally restrained Barack Obama unleashed a tirade against Republican and Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner the likes of which many of us had never heard.
The president’s remarks were met with a tit-for-tat by an uncommonly restrained Speaker Boehner, although his words were laced with vitriol at his president. Still, Boehner, who bears an uncommon resemblance in style to his late fellow Ohioan Dean Martin, seemed in an odd way almost anesthetized in his delivery. Had he had a martini earlier in the evening?
Both men seemed startled, having that deer in the headlights look about them, and that made me wonder.
If you subscribe to the theory that Washington reflects the American electorate as I do, than these two men represent everything that seems odd in America these days. Our leaders are like their citizens: irritable, angry, at times emotionally numb, having difficulties maintaining close relationships.
Forgive me for playing psychologist but I am going to make a diagnosis on what is going on in America. I think America is suffering from a national case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ever since 9/11 this country has been in a massive meltdown, incapable of staying focused on any one event, operating at half-tilt, reactive rather than active, and exhibiting all the symptoms I stated earlier common to PTSD to our nation’s extreme detriment.
It wouldn’t be the first time America has exhibited the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Who would deny this country went into full PTSD mode after the death of President Kennedy? There are those who say the Sixties were a clear reaction to those turbulent times when our beloved young president, his brother Bobby, and Martin Luther King’s lives were violently taken before our very eyes.
Now here we are nearly 10 years after that brutal September day when we lost so many in those towering infernos, again before our very eyes. And just as we felt back in the Sixties, our nation is traumatized even 10 years later. In fact we’re doing exactly what we did as a nation in the Sixties: splitting into angry, righteous factions out to do our fellow Americans in. Anxiety seems to rule the day and an eerie numbness as well. No one seems to be thinking clearly. And who would argue the inability of our leaders and our citizens to maintain close personal ties. Some of our leaders even admit to hearing things, Michele Bachmann, a key symptom of PTSD.
This is America’s grand long nightmare, nightmares another symptom of PTSD. But maybe if we name it we can do something about it. If we don’t, extremists win and America loses . . . and America is losing.
Halli Casser-Jayne is the author of A Year in My Pajamas with President Obama. She is the co-host of The Halli and MoJoe Shoe, Talk Radio for Fine Minds on BlogTalkRadio.