I haven't been this depressed in a daily way since I smoked, and woke up every morning with the taste of poison inside me and the feeling that cancer might have already taken hold. The daily ingesting of poison was a pall on my life for so long that I didn't know it until it was gone. And all I could do to distract myself from these fears was to make a pot of coffee and enjoy my first cigarette.
Now the cable TV news is the poison— The Morning Joe that I have with my morning joe.
I don't, as glibly as a TV pundit, give up all my fellow American citizens—even poorly educated—as abused dogs, neglected and beaten so many times they will bite at anything and eat anything, even shit. (It's possible to be angry without being insane.)
I don't, as snickeringly as some of my Canadian and European friends, believe that American taste has always been this vulgar, and finally someone has come along and revealed it. That America has always been a bully, and a bigger bully just arrived on the playground.
I keep calling people whose minds I respect because they have thought critically and carefully about the country, as government insiders and as government outsiders—and asking them, "What is going on?" They have no answers, just equally plaintive shakes of the head.
And just as I didn't want to die when I smoked cigarettes any more than I want to die now—I don't want America to die. But I feel for the very first time in my life that the country I know—or the country I think once shared with my father and mother, who try and fail to imagine watching all this—that it really could die, as the result of a campaign to Make America Great Again.
I don't want to sound histrionic in March about an election in November.
But then, you don't die of cancer the day you're diagnosed, but no one expects you to be cheerful about it.
Americans: I think this might be cancer.