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'No One Ever Told Me That Grief Felt So Like Fear'

The Anchoress on Paul Krugman's 9/11 meltdown and the misanthropy it (further) exposed -- if you haven't read it already, don't miss it:

Yesterday, someone sent me a link to Paul Krugman’s already-infamous 9/11 Vomit O’ Venom, launched at all of his favorite boogeymen, and I duly posted it to facebook but didn’t think much beyond what I wrote back to my friend: “the man is a wreck. A small fellow feeling impotent; so much of what he is sure of, he is not sure of, at all. This says so much more about him than it does anyone else.”

And because I was busy, I put it out of my mind.

This morning, though, Glenn Reynolds has a fascinating post of reactions (linked and emailed) about Krugman’s terrified little bleat — and that is ultimately what it seemed like to me. I read his post and immediately got an image of a small guy, hugging a pillow and cowering in his closet. That is similar to the image I have harbored of Maureen Dowd, since immediately after 9/11 — on her bed in a fetal position, with a gasmask on her bedpost and a bottle of cipro between her knees. More than anything, Krugman and Dowd have, since 9/11, seemed utterly terrified by an event that didn’t fit their worldview and which forced them to depend upon people they hated for their safety and security.

Rather like teenagers who hate that they actually need their stupid, out-of-touch parents, and must constantly howl about it to their friends, who join in because they realize they’re supposed to hate their parents, too.

Considered thusly, it is difficult to dislike them. I admit, I have an odd affection for both Krugman and Dowd; I rarely bother to read them, anymore, but when I do, I always feel like the universe is unfolding as it should, and I am therefore at peace.

I’m not trying to be mean. I have no animus toward either of them, and wish they could be happy; neither of them have seemed happy for at least a decade, perhaps longer. They are established people ensconced in their materially-very-comfortable lives, and they seem like terrified human beings freeze-framed in a perpetual scream whose source is known only to them, in the secret recesses of their hearts, where truth must be faced.

Getting back briefly, to Instapundit’s post, the email Glenn reprints, from an un-named professor struck me, because it reminded me of something I’d almost forgotten — a 9/12 phone call from an out-of-state friend, who said, “I wanted to call and see if you guys were alright,” — which was lovely and thoughtful — immediately followed with, “I guess this is what we get for electing Bush.”

Yes, the “we were all united, until Bush squandered it” narrative is pure fantasy. Let’s not forget, the rubble was still smoking when one writer was fretting over whether she should allow her daughter to buy a flag — with her own money — to put in their apartment window. What would the neighbors think?

All of that said, after reading an enormous amount of material yesterday, from perspectives “left” and “right,” blogs and magazines, secular and religious I ended the evening with C.S. Lewis, and the opening line to A Grief Observed:

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”

Elizabeth ends with a link to Jim Geraghty's reaction to Krugman, "and 15 Years Worth of Harsh Surprises:"

Americans are scared, but it’s a different fear than post-9/11. Looking back, that fear was almost reassuring; our enemy had a face and the potential victim-hood of everyone we passed on street bound us in momentary brotherhood. The guy who ordinarily irritated us with the loud radio became our temporary ally. Every night before bed, we could look around, see everyone laying themselves down where they had the night before, and feel a sense of victory for the forces of order, safety, and domestic tranquility.

Today we’re not merely fearful but beleaguered. We’ve been pummeled by years of being forced to recalculate who we trust and what we know to be true. We’re experiencing dual crises of trust and authority. It’s not that every person and institution we encounter is dishonest, corrupt, reckless, or malicious. But we’ve encountered just enough on a grand scale this decade and a half to create doubt about everyone else.

It’s better than worrying about whether your bus or train or office will blow up, but we’re now on guard from ubiquitous sleeper agents of incompetence: the guy down the street who buys a house he can’t afford and abandons it, the SEC agent who ignores the warning signs on Bernie Madoff, the broker who is caught off guard by a market crash, the congressman who thinks economic recovery is one make-work project in his district away.

Perhaps, as 2012 approaches, what Americans really yearn for is a leader who they can look at and conclude, deep in their bones, “I trust that person.”

Barring that, I'd settle for someone who will protect the nation, create systems that minimize the punitive damage government can do to the people who create jobs, and leave the rest of us the hell alone.