Sept. 1, 2009 -- mark it down -- the date when the United States of America officially became ungovernable.
It was the day when conservatives rose up with one voice to protest President Obama's speech to the school children of the nation. They put pressure on their school districts to ignore the speech or, at the very least, to excuse from listening children whose parents objected to the idea.
As might be expected Texas, led the way. "I don't want our schools turned over to some socialist movement," said one Texas man who said he'd keep his three kids home for the speech.
Admittedly, Obama did present some controversial ideas -- openly socialistic principles like staying in school, studying hard and going to college. Kids start doing that and there's no telling where it will end. Graduate school? Being smarter than their parents? Dangerous stuff. Seriously though, you see what I mean when I say the nation is ungovernable. What can you tell people who view a simple inspirational speech by the president to children as subversive?
A commentator on the Rush Limbaugh show accused Obama of trying to create a cult of personality in the manner of Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong-Il. Oh well, at least they've stopped comparing him to Hitler -- for the time being.
A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from a reader taking me to task for my use of invective against conservatives. "We're finding both liberals and conservatives doing exactly the same thing, exaggerating the facts, calling each other names, distorting the truth and so on...Because your column perpetuates negativity that serves no one well, we will not poison our minds and hearts with poorly written commentaries from you or anyone else."
My first response to that was: "What do they mean, poorly written?"
My second, which I sent on to the reader, was that I was only giving as good as I (and any liberal commentator) was getting from the Coulters, O'Reillys and Limbaughs of the world. Their answer was quick:
"Then have you not become what you say they are? Do you want to join forces with those people you call 'thugs?' You and others like you, who do not wish to exchange ideas in a healthy and constructive way, become yet another mud-slinging group, who quite frankly creates fear, revving up emotion of which only serves to break down our society without making efforts to inform."
That sounds good but don't tell it to me, tell it to Barack Obama who, when he tries to encourage kids to go to schools, is likened to Saddam Hussein. There is no dialogue that can be had with these people.
Try to have a public discussion of health insurance and pretty soon you find yourself having to deny that you're in favor of murdering grandparents.
The New York Times had a front page story the other week on a Georgia man who had gone to his Congressman's town meeting to speak out against Obama's health plan.
No he wasn't rowdy, he didn't shout anyone down. As a matter of fact he seemed like a very nice guy who was concerned about health care and for good reason. His wife was a survivor of breast cancer and, if he lost his job, would be uninsurable with a new company.
So he was for change in theory, but he didn't want to see a public option.
"She'd be on a waiting list," he said of his wife.
Then the article revealed that he received his information primarily from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Matt Drudge.
I, who get my news from The New York Times, National Public Radio, The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, The Washington Post and The New Yorker, and who never, ever listens to or reads Fox, Rush, or Drudge, live in a parallel universe.
I think his sources are biased, untruthful, and worse. He thinks mine are. Between us, we are ungovernable. Alas.
Donald Kaul, retired as Washington columnist for the Des Moines Register, has covered the nation's capital for more than three decades.