I am a political junkie, one of those Americans who obsessively watch the unfolding drama of world events and opinion about those events. It's a nice substitute for sports: it's real.
Sports events take too long for me; I'm bored and gone before I know who won. Happily, with political sport, you can turn it off any time something more interesting comes into view and pick it up again later. It repeats and repeats and repeats, regurgitating out of your TV like a badly digested dinner.
So I've had a hugely enjoyable run of political junkiness as the presidential campaign got going this year. I loved watching The Donald scare the bejesus out of the Republican establishment, a fright that shot into the stratosphere when he was overtaken by a neurosurgeon famed for separating twins conjoined at the head.
It was such fun to watch The Donald on first base eviscerating Jeb Bush simply by pointing out he had "low energy," which made everyone look at Jeb and notice that he had more problems than low energy, but there was that. The Donald fielded long-forgotten playground games on the presidential stage. What a strategy!
On second base he trivialized a few of the other candidates by scooping up so many of their supporters they fell down to The Kid's Table.
And then, the big surprise. A Stealth Candidate came up from behind The Donald as he rounded third heading for home. Who was this? It was the black evangelical. How exciting was that? I was cheering like mad.
Just name me the Republican operative who, after eight years of Obama, wants another black president, and even worse, a fundamentalist Christian? The confused GOP had the entire bi-partisan world of Political Correctness howling in horror at its choices. These self-made presidential hopefuls had successfully eviscerated the Establishment and left its guts sprawling all over national news programs.
Oh, I loved this game. I could hear them ripping their hair out in frustration, whining to each other about how they'd had to pander to the evangelicals ever since President Lyndon Johnson gifted the South to them with his civil rights legislation. A gift, sure, but they never expected an actual candidate to rise out of that cast of looneys. And not only is he black, he's a neurosurgeon who thinks Joseph from the Bible built the pyramids for grain storage!
On my couch I was cheering with glee. I saw a possible path for my guy, the old Socialist from the rocky mountains of Vermont (via Brooklyn), to break through the Juggernaut of our lead hitter, the Inevitable Hillary. So all was going swimmingly for me until last week when three advance teams of ISIS terrorized Paris with their killing game.
And everything changed overnight.
The Gods of War entered the game and now my stomach is clenched in fear. I want to shout at the Talking Heads, "We've been here before, Dummies, remember what we did after 9/11 and how that turned out?"
But of course, they can't remember. Testosterone in the brain blocks Reason after an attack. The rule of war is the Playground Rule: Punch equals Counter-Punch; Attack equals Counter-Attack.
So I peeked miserably as Obama stood before a roomful of reporters who kept asking the same question over and over and over again about the attack they all presumed would have to come. They needed their drug: Words of War. The next day the entire world of educated talking heads screamed for Barak's scalp, begging for a George Bush moment; needing him to Talk Tough, needing to have their hot blood stoked.
The poor guy fended off this tsunami of roiling rage in his own little bubble of inner peace, frail but stubborn, asking for calm, for thoughtfulness, for mercy for the refugees, for patience. I wondered how long he could withstand the Gods of War.
I still watch in a sort-of way, holding my hands in front of my eyes, peeking through fingers which shield me from what I don't want to see and still need to follow.
But Evil is loosed on the Earth and the fun has gone out of the game.
I think I'll re-watch "Downton Abbey" tonight.
Dorothy Vogel lives in Talent. She is the author of "The Timber Mill Action," a mystery set in southern Oregon. It's available on Amazon.com. Send 600- to 700-word articles to Sally McKirgan firstname.lastname@example.org.