Peggy Noonan is feeling a bit depressed today contemplating 1990 unreadable pages costing $2.24 million dollars a word.
While Americans feel increasingly disheartened, their leaders evince a mindless . . . one almost calls it optimism, but it is not that.
It is a curious thing that those who feel most mistily affectionate toward America, and most protective toward it, are the most aware of its vulnerabilities, the most aware that it can be harmed. They don’t see it as all-powerful, impregnable, unharmable. The loving have a sense of its limits.
When I see those in government, both locally and in Washington, spend and tax and come up each day with new ways to spend and taxâ€”health care, cap and trade, etc.â€”I think: Why aren’t they worried about the impact of what they’re doing? Why do they think America is so strong it can take endless abuse?
I think I know part of the answer. It is that they’ve never seen things go dark. They came of age during the great abundance, circa 1980-2008 (or 1950-2008, take your pick), and they don’t have the habit of worry. They talk about their “concerns”â€”they’re big on that word. But they’re not really concerned. They think America is the goose that lays the golden egg. Why not? She laid it in their laps. She laid it in grandpa’s lap.
They don’t feel anxious, because they never had anything to be anxious about. They grew up in an America surrounded by phrasesâ€””strongest nation in the world,” “indispensable nation,” “unipolar power,” “highest standard of living”â€”and are not bright enough, or serious enough, to imagine that they can damage that, hurt it, even fatally.
We are governed at all levels by America’s luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists but they’re not optimistsâ€”they’re unimaginative. They don’t have faith, they’ve just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don’t mind it when people become disheartened. They don’t even notice.