Brian Birdnow

Kathleen Parker is a proud member of a very select club. She is, in fact, a charter member of a cabal that might be called, for lack of a better term, “Self-Professed Conservatives For Obama”, and whose ranks include Colin Powell, Jeffrey Hart, Peggy Noonan, and Christopher Buckley, among other luminaries. Ms. Parker seems to enjoy positioning herself as a sort of conscience to the conservative movement, a Jiminy Cricket calling the right-wingers back to the sensible center and exhorting us to eschew confrontation and to heed the better angels of our nature. The current issue over which Kathleen Parker has worked herself into a lather is what she terms America’s “Legacy of Hysteria”, by which she means, of course, the USA in the Post-9/11 era.

In her syndicated Washington Post column last week, Ms. Parker used “Legacy of Hysteria”, along with a subtitle, “America, Heal Thyself” to assess the state of the union after September 11, 2001. She blames the supposedly hysterical American reaction to 9/11 for nearly all of our civic social ills, from our polarized politics, to our coming financial catastrophe, to the shallowness of our popular culture. According to Kathleen Parker each of these very real problems can be attributed to the hysterical American response to the 9/11 attacks. Ms. Parker spins an elaborate tale concerning the overwrought American response to the attacks that day, then moves on to reveal the true purpose of her column, which is to criticize the war on terror and the GOP response to the current unpleasantness, all the while lamenting the “…damage to America’s soul”. She finishes with a flourish, “America, Heal Thyself. Please.” Methinks that Kathleen Parker doth protest too much!


Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.