Election-induced insanity

Psychiatrist Phyllis Chesler is worried about Pre-Election Psycho-Somatic Hysteria:

There are important reasons to vote for Obama and important reasons to vote for McCain. Neither candidate thrills me, both frighten me but for different reasons. But, what worries me even more than the candidates is the way in which so many Americans seem to have lost both their gravity and their sanity. They are behaving like drunken soccer fans or like ecstatic True Believers undergoing a religious transformation. During Obama’s acceptance speech 100 years ago in Denver, I saw people of all ages, both genders, and of every color, weeping, trembling, transfixed.

Pro-Obama grandmothers are behaving just like “bobby-soxers” once did at a Frank Sinatra or Elvis concert.

McCain-Palin supporters do not seem to be behaving in this way. Perhaps that is because they do not view McCain or Palin as Messiahs. I am not saying that Republican supporters are free of weird and tragic behaviors. Au contraire. A week ago today, I wrote about the young woman (a McCain supporter) who’d claimed she’d been attacked and mutilated by an angry, black, pro-Obama supporter. It was all a hoax, the woman clearly had “problems.”

But this was one individual, it was not an entire crowd; this was a young and powerless individual, not a successful and powerful one.

So, what are we to make of someone like my friend and colleague, the accomplished and hard-working Erica Jong, when she tells the Italian media that she has begun to somatize the election? Insomnia, back spasms and all? I’ve emailed her to find out if she really, honestly said this but as yet, have heard nothing back.

According to Jason Horowitz in the New York Observer, Jong told Corriere della Sera that an “Obama loss will spark the second American Civil War. Blood Will Run in the Streets.” . . .Jong allegedly told Corriere della Sera that her “fear that Obama might lose the election has become an obsession. A paralyzing terror. An anxious fever that keeps you awake at night.” She also mentions that her friends Naomi Wolf and Jane Fonda are “extremely worried that Obama will be sabotaged by Republican dirty tricks” and that it will lead to a “second American Civil War.”

Il Foglio’s New York based correspondent, Christian Rocca, has translated parts of the Jong interview into English. What is going on when Jong and her equally creative, accomplished, and wealthy friends (Ken Follett, Susan Cheever, Wolf, Fonda, Michael Chabon) claim that the Republican Party is causing a psycho-somatic “meltdown?”

According to Jong, Fonda says that she “cried all night and can’t cure (her) ailing back for all the stress.” Jong herself is also suffering from “back spasms” and has had to turn to “acupuncture and valium.” Jong is quoted as saying:

“It’s not a coincidence that President Bush recalled soldiers from Iraq for Dick Cheney to lead against American citizens in the streets…Bush has transformed America into a police state, from torture to the imprisonment of reporters, to the Patriot Act.”

Oh, Erica, say it isn’t so, tell me you were quoted out of context, tell me you took too much valium, tell me anything. What can it mean when smart, feminist women start acting like hysterical nineteenth century heroines? When they feel “victimized” even as their candidate appears to be winning?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • FW

    “Pro-Obama grandmothers are behaving just like “bobby-soxers” once did at a Frank Sinatra or Elvis concert.

    McCain-Palin supporters do not seem to be behaving in this way.”

    yeah you are so right. the McCain Palin supporters just scream “terrorist!” and “kill him” and “baby killer” when obama´s name is mentioned and in fact, mc cain´s appearances appear well overshadowed by the numbers showing up at Palin rallies. I have read that when it is a joint rally and palin speaks first, people start drifting out when it is Mc Cain´s turn at the podium. would be interesting to know if this is true or just liberal media spin.

  • FW

    “Pro-Obama grandmothers are behaving just like “bobby-soxers” once did at a Frank Sinatra or Elvis concert.

    McCain-Palin supporters do not seem to be behaving in this way.”

    yeah you are so right. the McCain Palin supporters just scream “terrorist!” and “kill him” and “baby killer” when obama´s name is mentioned and in fact, mc cain´s appearances appear well overshadowed by the numbers showing up at Palin rallies. I have read that when it is a joint rally and palin speaks first, people start drifting out when it is Mc Cain´s turn at the podium. would be interesting to know if this is true or just liberal media spin.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I recall psychoanalysts saying they had an uptick in anxious and depressed patients after Kerry’s loss to Bush in ’04.
    It’s twice as sad to consider the false peace these people may experience, should Obama win the election. Will they think that all will be well? Will not only back spasms be cured and sleep restored, but the very world be healed?
    So what happens when, in the due course of politics, the opposition party objects to or works against the proposals of a pres. O? Will that party cease to be the loyal opposition and be deemed rebels instead? The resistance?
    Let’s hear it for a do-nothing Congress!

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I recall psychoanalysts saying they had an uptick in anxious and depressed patients after Kerry’s loss to Bush in ’04.
    It’s twice as sad to consider the false peace these people may experience, should Obama win the election. Will they think that all will be well? Will not only back spasms be cured and sleep restored, but the very world be healed?
    So what happens when, in the due course of politics, the opposition party objects to or works against the proposals of a pres. O? Will that party cease to be the loyal opposition and be deemed rebels instead? The resistance?
    Let’s hear it for a do-nothing Congress!

  • JennaT

    FW….Huh?????????

  • JennaT

    FW….Huh?????????

  • FW

    #3 jennat

    obamas supporters seem to love their candidate to the point of hero worship.

    mc cain/palin candidates appear to be often motivated at rallys by actual hate for the person of obama more than adulation of mc cain..

  • FW

    #3 jennat

    obamas supporters seem to love their candidate to the point of hero worship.

    mc cain/palin candidates appear to be often motivated at rallys by actual hate for the person of obama more than adulation of mc cain..

  • FW

    #3 jenna t

    my comment was meant to question the accuracy of the article quoted relative to the enthusiasm of the supporters… both are enthusiastic. one in adulation, the other often in an “us-vs-them” mentality of sometimes hate expressed in rather strong verbal terms.

    when has obama had to correct something his audience has said as mc cain has had to.?

  • FW

    #3 jenna t

    my comment was meant to question the accuracy of the article quoted relative to the enthusiasm of the supporters… both are enthusiastic. one in adulation, the other often in an “us-vs-them” mentality of sometimes hate expressed in rather strong verbal terms.

    when has obama had to correct something his audience has said as mc cain has had to.?

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  • Anon

    FW, as you know it is a LIE to claim that McCain-Palin supporters were saying anything like “kill him.” The Secret Service investigated this with great care and has officially reported.

    On the other hand it is fact that Norm Coleman’s garage was vandalized, that Democrats have been shooting up homes in places like Florida, that GOP supporters have been beaten up, that a Huffington Post talk radio announcer has called on the air for the murder of Joe W., the plumber, that Dems are saying that if McCain wins it was a trick, and that they will fight. That Code Pink called some days ago to their members to be packed and be ready to lay seige to the White House if The One doesn’t win.

    And Obama *is* a baby-killer as an accessory. That is simple fact, where as the usual Dem charge that our troops are baby-killers is a lie.

  • Anon

    FW, as you know it is a LIE to claim that McCain-Palin supporters were saying anything like “kill him.” The Secret Service investigated this with great care and has officially reported.

    On the other hand it is fact that Norm Coleman’s garage was vandalized, that Democrats have been shooting up homes in places like Florida, that GOP supporters have been beaten up, that a Huffington Post talk radio announcer has called on the air for the murder of Joe W., the plumber, that Dems are saying that if McCain wins it was a trick, and that they will fight. That Code Pink called some days ago to their members to be packed and be ready to lay seige to the White House if The One doesn’t win.

    And Obama *is* a baby-killer as an accessory. That is simple fact, where as the usual Dem charge that our troops are baby-killers is a lie.

  • Peter Leavitt

    John Piper in a recent article had this to say about voting and other secular concerns:

    So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.

    Too bad Erica Jong lacks the treasure of consolation that serious Christians have when it comes to elections and other worldly matters, however important in the realm of space and time.

  • Peter Leavitt

    John Piper in a recent article had this to say about voting and other secular concerns:

    So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.

    Too bad Erica Jong lacks the treasure of consolation that serious Christians have when it comes to elections and other worldly matters, however important in the realm of space and time.

  • J

    It’s apparent this psychiatrist doesn’t read Veith’s blog, where each day brings a new boatload of pre-election hysteria over the prospect of Obama’s election.

  • J

    It’s apparent this psychiatrist doesn’t read Veith’s blog, where each day brings a new boatload of pre-election hysteria over the prospect of Obama’s election.

  • Gregory DeVore

    FW-Obama is a baby killer. All pro-choicers share in the 50000000 abortion blood bath. As far as calls to kill Obama that turned out to be a lie passed by an Obama supporting leftist reporter.

  • Gregory DeVore

    FW-Obama is a baby killer. All pro-choicers share in the 50000000 abortion blood bath. As far as calls to kill Obama that turned out to be a lie passed by an Obama supporting leftist reporter.

  • Gregory DeVore

    As far as America being a police state we haven’t seen nothing yet. Obama has called for a Citizen security force as large and as well funded as the US military. I heard the audio on Drudge. Very Scary. Like Hitler with his brown shirts and Stalin with his KGB Obama will have a domestic Army. To what end? I fear he is planning to provoke civil war and to wage war on the American public.

  • Gregory DeVore

    As far as America being a police state we haven’t seen nothing yet. Obama has called for a Citizen security force as large and as well funded as the US military. I heard the audio on Drudge. Very Scary. Like Hitler with his brown shirts and Stalin with his KGB Obama will have a domestic Army. To what end? I fear he is planning to provoke civil war and to wage war on the American public.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Greg (@11), are you serious, or are you humorously responding to J (@9)? Does it worry you that I can’t tell the difference?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Greg (@11), are you serious, or are you humorously responding to J (@9)? Does it worry you that I can’t tell the difference?

  • Anon

    tODD, I dunno, was Obama serious?

    I’ve studied history. This is basically a sturmabteilung or KGB/FSB/Stasi that he is promising to create.

    That -should- scare you.

  • Anon

    tODD, I dunno, was Obama serious?

    I’ve studied history. This is basically a sturmabteilung or KGB/FSB/Stasi that he is promising to create.

    That -should- scare you.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon (@13), I wasn’t talking to you. And when I did respond to these ridiculous claims when you made them, quite a while ago, you didn’t have anything to say then. It’s a clear misreading of Obama’s statements.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon (@13), I wasn’t talking to you. And when I did respond to these ridiculous claims when you made them, quite a while ago, you didn’t have anything to say then. It’s a clear misreading of Obama’s statements.

  • Gregory DeVore

    tODD listen to this and tell me what you think. Obama on Civilian security force.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt2yGzHfy7s

  • Gregory DeVore

    tODD listen to this and tell me what you think. Obama on Civilian security force.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt2yGzHfy7s

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Gregory (@15), oh, I’m familiar with the speech. I wonder if you are, however, given that you linked to a 20-second clip that was cleverly edited to give you only the impression that you have asserted here (@11). Have you heard that bit in context? Do you, as a Christian (I assume), think that context is important when assessing someone’s words?

    I do, which is why I suggest you listen to the actual, entire speech. If you need to skip a bit, go to around 11:00 into that video.

    But if you won’t do that, here’s the relevant segment, transcribed by those liberal hippies at the Volokh Conspiracy blog:

    Just as we must value and encourage military service across our society, we must honor and expand other opportunities to serve. Because the future of our nation depends on the soldier at Fort Carson, but it also depends on the teacher in East LA, or the nurse in Appalachia, the after-school worker in New Orleans, the Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, the Foreign Service officer in Indonesia. . . .

    Today, AmeriCorps – our nation’s network of local, state and national service programs – has 75,000 slots. And I know firsthand the quality of these programs. My wife Michelle once left her job at a law firm at city hall to be a founding director of an AmeriCorps program in Chicago that trains young people for careers in public service. These programs invest Americans in their communities and their country. They tap America’s greatest resource – our citizens.

    That’s why as President, I will expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 slots, and make that increased service a vehicle to meet national goals like providing health care and education, saving our planet and restoring our standing in the world, so that citizens see their efforts connected to a common purpose. People of all ages, stations, and skills will be asked to serve. Because when it comes to the challenges we face, the American people are not the problem – they are the answer.

    So we are going to send more college graduates to teach and mentor our young people. We’ll call on Americans to join an Energy Corps to conduct renewable energy and environmental cleanup projects in their neighborhoods all across the country. We will enlist our veterans to find jobs and support for other vets, to be there for our military families. And we’re going to grow our Foreign Service, open consulates that have been shuttered, and double the size of Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy.

    We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.

    He is talking about AmeriCorps, a proposed “Energy Corps to conduct renewable energy and environmental cleanup projects”, the Foreign Service, and the Peace Corps.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Gregory (@15), oh, I’m familiar with the speech. I wonder if you are, however, given that you linked to a 20-second clip that was cleverly edited to give you only the impression that you have asserted here (@11). Have you heard that bit in context? Do you, as a Christian (I assume), think that context is important when assessing someone’s words?

    I do, which is why I suggest you listen to the actual, entire speech. If you need to skip a bit, go to around 11:00 into that video.

    But if you won’t do that, here’s the relevant segment, transcribed by those liberal hippies at the Volokh Conspiracy blog:

    Just as we must value and encourage military service across our society, we must honor and expand other opportunities to serve. Because the future of our nation depends on the soldier at Fort Carson, but it also depends on the teacher in East LA, or the nurse in Appalachia, the after-school worker in New Orleans, the Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, the Foreign Service officer in Indonesia. . . .

    Today, AmeriCorps – our nation’s network of local, state and national service programs – has 75,000 slots. And I know firsthand the quality of these programs. My wife Michelle once left her job at a law firm at city hall to be a founding director of an AmeriCorps program in Chicago that trains young people for careers in public service. These programs invest Americans in their communities and their country. They tap America’s greatest resource – our citizens.

    That’s why as President, I will expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 slots, and make that increased service a vehicle to meet national goals like providing health care and education, saving our planet and restoring our standing in the world, so that citizens see their efforts connected to a common purpose. People of all ages, stations, and skills will be asked to serve. Because when it comes to the challenges we face, the American people are not the problem – they are the answer.

    So we are going to send more college graduates to teach and mentor our young people. We’ll call on Americans to join an Energy Corps to conduct renewable energy and environmental cleanup projects in their neighborhoods all across the country. We will enlist our veterans to find jobs and support for other vets, to be there for our military families. And we’re going to grow our Foreign Service, open consulates that have been shuttered, and double the size of Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy.

    We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.

    He is talking about AmeriCorps, a proposed “Energy Corps to conduct renewable energy and environmental cleanup projects”, the Foreign Service, and the Peace Corps.

  • Gregory DeVore

    Interesting that he used the term national security force in that context. Americorps, Energy corps, Foreign Service, Peace Corps are not what comes to mind when you use the term national security force. Given that Obama is probably the next Pres I hope you are right and he is not calling for a domestic paramilitary army. I have misgivings about putting that many Americans to work for the government. But my level of concern over the peace corps is as you might guess is a lot less then the thought of a domestic army.

  • Gregory DeVore

    Interesting that he used the term national security force in that context. Americorps, Energy corps, Foreign Service, Peace Corps are not what comes to mind when you use the term national security force. Given that Obama is probably the next Pres I hope you are right and he is not calling for a domestic paramilitary army. I have misgivings about putting that many Americans to work for the government. But my level of concern over the peace corps is as you might guess is a lot less then the thought of a domestic army.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Gregory (@17), again, the reason he used the phrase “civilian national security force” is that it echoes what he said earlier in my excerpted quote:

    Because the future of our nation depends on the soldier at Fort Carson, but it also depends on the teacher in East LA, or the nurse in Appalachia, the after-school worker in New Orleans, the Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, the Foreign Service officer in Indonesia.

    Emphasis mine. It is quite understandable that Christians can and will disagree with the actual policy that Obama is suggesting. It would be expensive, not to mention expansive. There is plenty to discuss reasonably along those lines. But accusing this of being an announcement of “a sturmabteilung or KGB/FSB/Stasi” is not among them.

    Thanks for taking the time to look into what Obama actually said!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Gregory (@17), again, the reason he used the phrase “civilian national security force” is that it echoes what he said earlier in my excerpted quote:

    Because the future of our nation depends on the soldier at Fort Carson, but it also depends on the teacher in East LA, or the nurse in Appalachia, the after-school worker in New Orleans, the Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, the Foreign Service officer in Indonesia.

    Emphasis mine. It is quite understandable that Christians can and will disagree with the actual policy that Obama is suggesting. It would be expensive, not to mention expansive. There is plenty to discuss reasonably along those lines. But accusing this of being an announcement of “a sturmabteilung or KGB/FSB/Stasi” is not among them.

    Thanks for taking the time to look into what Obama actually said!

  • Peter Leavitt

    While Obama in this speech is not talking about some sort of vast civilian police force, he is talking rather grandiosely about leading a vast group of Americans who through some vaguely defined public service will solve the nation’s problems.

    In the long run America’s domestic problems are mainly solved by hard-working, responsible individuals with a strong moral center including young people who study hard and older people who take good care of their families. We don’t need some starry eyed Democratic- or Republican- president to organize a civilian corps to solve the country’s problems.

    What a national government can do is provide strong national security and diplomacy along with a responsible treasury and effective regulation of national commerce. Obama is frothy in this speech about a civilian corps but entirely vague about the specific national security and economic issues that really matter.

    If the fellow had a substantial record of accomplishment in his own life, one might take him seriously; the fact is that he has never been tested in a serious position of responsibility and lacks a credible record of accomplishment. As the Texans say he is all hat with no cattle.

  • Peter Leavitt

    While Obama in this speech is not talking about some sort of vast civilian police force, he is talking rather grandiosely about leading a vast group of Americans who through some vaguely defined public service will solve the nation’s problems.

    In the long run America’s domestic problems are mainly solved by hard-working, responsible individuals with a strong moral center including young people who study hard and older people who take good care of their families. We don’t need some starry eyed Democratic- or Republican- president to organize a civilian corps to solve the country’s problems.

    What a national government can do is provide strong national security and diplomacy along with a responsible treasury and effective regulation of national commerce. Obama is frothy in this speech about a civilian corps but entirely vague about the specific national security and economic issues that really matter.

    If the fellow had a substantial record of accomplishment in his own life, one might take him seriously; the fact is that he has never been tested in a serious position of responsibility and lacks a credible record of accomplishment. As the Texans say he is all hat with no cattle.

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