Bill Murchison

1. Iraq and the 2000 election. It turns out a lot of people who watched George W. Bush claim the presidency and later invade Iraq really hate him and all his works. We have never, I think, in our history seen this level of loathing for a chief executive, not in Franklin Roosevelt's day, not even in Bill Clinton's, when disgust and contempt -- distant relations of hatred -- were the dominant emotions. Some of us seemingly can't think of anything other than the "evil" their president -- and, of course, lackeys like the speaker -- has done.

2. A new media culture -- one of constant accusation, overstatement and hyperbole -- tailored to the needs of the Internet with its insatiable appetite for the shocking. On the worst of the blogs -- a highly overpopulated category -- you're not just mistaken or misguided; you're a stupid, evil #!*%!# who'd sell his cooing infant daughter for a few votes or bucks. The preternatural ability of these obsessed accusers to capture and hold our attention has not been sufficiently appraised -- and maybe can't be just yet.

Meanwhile, the North Koreans, metaphorically, prepare and light their fuse. Who can say authoritatively what the real danger is, or what counter-measures are indicated? We can figure out, even so, the importance of such a matter relative to the importance of another -- yes, another! -- Capitol Hill sex scandal.

Are we on the verge of questioning the frivolity and self-centeredness that customarily drive modern national conversations? Probably not with the seriousness requisite to the task. On the other hand, it's almost a relief to consider seriously a matter of life or death, instead of our usual speciality, a matter of spite and sleaze.

Now wouldn't be exactly the worst time in the world for Americans to ... grow up.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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