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Michael Wolff Headshot

It's Not Politics, It's Bonkers

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Let's make nuttiness in America the issue.

Forget right or left or any matters of ideology. Why not make the pressing public issue about logic, perspective, rationality, proportion, and even humor?

There ought to be a new political test: If you talk like a nut, if you act like a nut, if you associate with other nuts, you're a nut.

Joe Stack's daughter, Samantha Bell, is, like her father, who flew his plane into the IRS office in Austin, Texas, last week, a nut. His suicide and murder of an innocent bystander was, according to Bell, her father's way of speaking out against injustice. "Nothing will ever be accomplished," she said, if there aren't people like her father willing to strike a blow against big government (she also called him a hero, but then, as nuttily, thought better of that and retracted it).

In no time at all, Joe Stack could become part of the discussion about the evils of Washington. Many reasonable people may shortly be engaged in a Joe Stack-inspired debate about the virtues or ills of big government. This is partly out of a certain politesse: We think it's unfair or incorrect or plainly not nice to call people cuckoo, daft, deficient, around the bend. Political debate, I'd argue, is quite often a way to avoid the real subject. The very impersonal and humorless nature of political discussions--so that even in the privacy of our own homes we can sound like talking heads--means we overlook the real emotional subtext: Many Americans are truly out-and-out over the edge. (Arguably, the more you talk about politics the more distant you are from your emotions and, hence, the nuttier you are.)

And the problem keeps getting worse.

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