Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Neurotics, psychotics, sociopaths, egocentrics forge U.S. image

Express Staff Writer

The Brits once were incontestable frontrunners in bizarre and bestial crimes, politicians drawn to self-destructive sex liaisons, batty theatrical personalities and lurid tabloid newspaper gossip.

Move over, John Bull. Your neurotic, psychotic, sociopathic, schitzo and egomaniacal American cousins have passed you in a breeze.

U.S. culture teems with off-kilter wackos wielding national influence, exhibitionists who make carnival sideshows of bearded women seem amateurish and misfits conducting themselves in gross ways that once were considered outrageous. They now are the news, the trendsetters.

The White House state dinner gatecrashers, already known as deadbeats and for acrimonious family lawsuits, currently hold the nation agog. Their hunger for attention is psychotic.

Coming on strong is a new national obsession—Tiger Woods and his marital issues.

Consider today's sex scandals compared to 1963's Porfumo Affair—British war minister John Porfumo caught nesting with a showgirl. Hmph. Contemporary U.S. politicians do better. Vice presidential candidate John Edwards fathered a child with a videographer during his campaign. New York's Gov. Spitzer was addicted to call girls. South Carolina's Gov. Sanford internationalized his adultery in Argentina. Congressmen had a variety of peccadilloes—Florida's Foley yearned for young male pages; Nevada's Ensign coveted his friend's wife; Louisiana's Vitter was a D.C. madam's regular; and Idaho's Larry Craig tried sexual overtures in a bathroom stall.

Exposing phony, self-made military "heroes" has become an avocation for a Dallas attorney.

Whereas divorce and adultery were scandalous in show biz in years past, today's theatrical and film stars include shameless drug addicts in and out of rehab and ingénues who willingly lift their blouses for the paparazzi.

Finally, pretenders to national power and influence—the bubbly and shallow Sarah Palin, TV's darkly madcap Glenn Beck, the regal narcissist Rush Limbaugh, the hallucinating Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann—have given respectability to unhinged thinking and thereby uncloseted millions of eccentrics whose "tea bag rallies" are a mixture of Nazi hate symbols, makeshift economic theory, delusional conspiracy theories and therapy for idle minds.

Even the nation's serious business has taken on a crackpot quality. Health care reform is too expensive for its opponents—but piling up tens of billions of dollars in more debt by expanding the war in Afghanistan is not.

Finally, the chief organizer of health care reform opposition and the widespread "tea bag" protests, former U.S. Rep. Dick Armey, admits publicly that he has yet to read the 2,000-page legislation being debated in Congress and doesn't believe he needs to. He can denounce it out of pure ignorance.

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