The public is on the brink of insanity


After the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration spent most of its time building a case for the war in Iraq. From September of 2001 to 2003, the media inundated the American people with the possibility of war. One day there was talk of weapons of mass destruction and war. The next day there would be talk of peace. This strategy went on for months. In Bob Woodward’s book “Plan of Attack,” he documents Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telling the president that the media leaks, with a different plan almost every day, had become useful. “Well, one good thing about this is that I’m sure that Saddam is by now confused.”

If Saddam Hussein can be confused by such a strategy, what about the American people? Would not the uncertainty of war have the same impact on them? I remember the time period as though it were yesterday. It was like the Americans were riding a giant rollercoaster; up and down and down and around. The weapons of mass destruction rhetoric became overwhelming as only president Bush and vice president Cheney knew for certain that war was inevitable. During that period, the anxiety and stress levels of the American people must have bordered on the brink of insanity.

Think about the 14-day government shut down crisis. It too had that element of uncertainty. Nobody understood what was going on. The great orator, Ted Cruz, himself had not a clue to how the government would reopen. It was sheer mental agony as the average American was forced to worry about the negative consequences of a prolonged government shut down and default. It was a rollercoaster ride all the way down to the last day, Oct. 17.

At the conclusion of the vote to reopen the government on Oct. 16, 2003, House stenographer Dianne Reidy approached the podium shouting with a crazed look in her eyes. She obviously was full of anxiety and stress. The incoherent words that came out of her mouth are empirical evidence that the 14-day shutdown had had a substantial impact on her mind. An you called Dianne “crazy.” If the shutdown hadn’t ended when it did, the president, half the members of congress and citizens across the nation would be walking the city streets and farm fields like zombies.

This brings to mind the old 1972 film “The Poseidon Adventure” produced by Irwin Allen. A large passenger ship is wrecked on the high seas. The hull is turned bottom up and the survivors are trapped. How do you get out? Do you follow John McCain and the Republican traditionalist? Do you follow Ted Cruz and the tea party? Do you follow the president? Or do you listen to the media? One thing is for certain:

Should you listen to the media, you will find yourself on the brink of insanity.

Alfred Spencer