Rooms full of racket and nonstop commotion drive a person nuts. You want to clap hands over your ears and flee. This is the case now from the rowdiness of what Reader's Digest used to call — still may for aught I know — "Life in These United States."
If the American noise level seems unlikely to diminish anytime soon, the moment is surely at hand to point out a few evidences of the country's comparative health and short-term prospects.
1) The tax bill — known to Bernie Sanders as "one of the great robberies, criminal activities, if you like" in modern U.S. history — seems less likely to destroy us than to invigorate the economy. Neither Sanders nor I can "prove" that the sun will come up tomorrow; however, common sense speaks reassuring words about cutting taxes. If tax rates for businesses fall, businesses have more money to invest and can hire more workers, and pay them more, in the search for that evil commodity (as "progressives" see it) called profits. At day's end, that's what the bill is about — putting capital to work rather than funneling it to the government or an offshore bank account.
2) The New York Times' Twitter campaign — yes, really — to have readers call their senators and urge a "no" vote for the bill was a bust. So much for the power of the liberal media. Tee-hee.
3) The Russia story is, shall we say, underperforming as a threat to the White House. I keep looking for the "there" that's supposedly there — chiefly, at present, the indictment of Gen. Michael Flynn for lying about conversations with the Russians. Conversations? I turn the matter around in my head. Talk? That's it? Mendacity aside (a hard thing to concede), where's the Watergate-like scandal that the Robert Mueller prosecutorial shop is supposed to be digging up for public exhibition? All this PR and public sweat — for what? It seems the political equivalent of picking up lost pennies on the shopping center parking lot.
4) Roy Moore probably will win the Alabama Senate race without further degrading the quality of intelligence and character in the land of Al Franken and Nancy Pelosi. Congress has survived worse than Moore, while continuing to reflect with some accuracy the tastes and peccadillos of the voters who send these folk up there in the first place.
I pause. I could go on: instance upon instance of overwrought, media-conditioned jaw-flapping and hand-wringing — the total import of which is frequently hard to bear, psychologically.
The ruination of this and that is a constant sermon in the racket-filled room we call our country: for which condition, as I see it, the president of the United States is only partly to blame, tedious and tiresome as his tweeting had become long before Inauguration Day.
The many means of communication, their sheer number and variety, seem to me a major cause of the problem. That which is there to be used will be used. And you can't guarantee how. The insults and calumniations, the prophecies of doom and ruin, take on, through repetition, flesh of their own. If you've called Trump a maniac, as did The New York Times' Michelle Goldberg the other day, you've got to make sure he stays one, lest some other, lesser prophet grab your robe and run off with it. If you have invested labor and deliberation in the cause of shouting down the tax bill, you have to make sure everyone remembers, and believes in, the disasters you predicted.
Such is free speech — a crowning glory of these United States. No constitutional provision requires that free speech be conducted rationally — and in the days before flag-burnings and knee-takings, that was pretty much OK. In our era of endless angry speech, fueled by more media sources than anyone can count, spirits and expectations droop, and the world seems an awful place because — well, because so many communicators say it is. I exercise my own right of free speech to say it's not. Not yet, at least.
William Murchison's latest book is "The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson." To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.