The prospect of President Rick Perry scares me. The prospect of President Ron Paul, however faint, scares me more.
And the fact that, presumably, universal suffrage applies to a loud -- and monstrous -- contingent at Monday night's CNN/Tea Party Republican debate scares me most of all.
Let me be clear: If crowd reactions are any clue to what the tea-party movement really stands for (and I think they do, given the weirdness of America's present "tea" totalism), then this present darkness, this "constitutionalist" mass insanity not only threatens the American republic but also, if left unchecked, mortally threatens civilization itself.
It represents, in the ironic name of God and country, a mass restating of Cain's guilty query of the Lord: "Am I my brother's keeper?" For Cain had just slain his brother, Abel.
Or let him die because he didn't buy health insurance. One or the other.
YOU KNOW your political base is a bunch of hateful lunatics when the man who had been pandering to them so effectively admits to NBC News that he was horrified by the tea-bag rabble's heartless reaction.
The morning after a sometimes-rocky appearance in front of a Tea Party debate audience, Gov. Rick Perry said he was "taken aback" by cheers from some crowd members on a hypothetical question of whether a young man who decides not to buy health insurance should be refused care if he develops a life-threatening illness and be left to die.
"I was a bit taken aback by that myself," Perry told NBC News and the Miami Herald after appearing at a breakfast fundraiser in Tampa.
"We're the party of life. We ought to be coming up with ways to save lives."
Perry distinguished from that the issue of "justice," reiterating his strong support and "respect" for the death penalty on a state-by-state basis. "But the Republican party ought to be about life and protecting, particularly, innocent life," he added.
PERRY'S GOT it all wrong. His is not the party of life -- it is the Party of Greed. The Party of Self-Righteousness. The Party of Endless War. The Party of American Hubris. The Party of Demagoguery. The Party of Willful Ignorance. (How 'bout them drought- and heatwave-fueled Tejas wildfires, Governor? No climate change to see here . . . move along.)
And the Democrats are just as bad. Just different -- right-wing extremists cheer for letting the uninsured die of dread diseases, left-wing ones cheer for killing babies in the womb.
Our age has become one where shell-shocked Jeremiahs spend much time invoking, and desperately defending, moral propositions once so obvious they required little discussion and almost no debate. What are tea-party Republicans going to rethink next? The 13th Amendment?
What are "progressive" Democrats going to try to enshrine as a "right" next? Incest?
Don't answer that. Just allow me the small comfort of feeling vaguely foolish for having felt the need to write this flippin' post at all . . . for all the good it'll do.
Such is the state of the nation in this land far, far right (and left) of Eden.