America's collective ADD
According to the American Psychiatric Association, ADD is now officially called Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or AD/HD, although most lay people and even some professionals still call it ADD or A.D.D. (the names given in 1980). ADD is a condition that is characterized by a short attention span whose victims suffer from easy distractability. Excessive activity or hyperactivity is also a sign of ADD as is impulsivity (acting without thinking). If diagnosed early, children and their parents can prepare for the kind of life that follows.
There is something going on now that is testing the attention span of all Americans, but before I get to that, let me ask you to think back to a earlier time and to an earlier experience that tested your ability to stay focused and calm. It must be a complex, demanding and drawn-out one that made you take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and your patience and tell yourself, "I can do this." It could be from your youth or later, from school or home or work. It could be a solitary or group experience. Then, try to remember when you gave up trying and why.
We are all tested throughout life, sometimes by ourselves, sometimes by others and sometimes by circumstances. How we respond depends on our individual personality, our character, our upbringing, our value system and sometimes by disorders that are no fault of our own like ADD. Unfortunately, there is no blood test or urinalysis to tell whether a child has ADD, but there are about 14 different symptoms that parents can look for. It goes without saying that most of us have fidgeted about in school and had difficulty concentrating, but we grow out of it if we're lucky.
Life has a way of reminding us of those earlier times, especially if we're politically engaged. Let's take two separate but maybe related scandals that have dominated the airwaves this past year: the FBI probe into the Trump for President campaign (for possible collusion with the Russians) and the FBI and Congressional investigation into Hillary Clinton's alleged contravention of national security regulations with respect to her emails and private server.
Those two investigations are enough to turn even the strongest most focused and patient among us into candidates for a padded room in the funny farm. After watching hundreds of hours of Congressional hearings, interviews, press conferences and pundit pontificating, America is up to its eyeballs in conflicting opinions, widely differing descriptions of encounters and motive speculation. This is not a dime novel; it's more like "The Blah Story" the world's longest book (over 3 million words on over 7,300 pages, published in 2007). No Hollywood writers' club could have given us characters like Mr. Trump's inner circle, Hillary Clinton's coterie, the FBI's 'secret society' of anti-Trumpers, the Congressional committee warlocks and the keepers of the justice flame, the DOJ's top leadership.
Can you connect the dots, follow the diverging and converging timelines, sort through the motivations from all the competing interests and separate the ideologues from the objective truth sleuthers? If you can, you, my friend have the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon...or you have too much time on your hands. The DC scandals involving all of the above-mentioned groups, have now taken on lives of their own and have become 'too big to fail.' They MUST produce something, anything, within the next ten months before the mid-term elections to be valuable to either political party. It is the DC way.
I have a feeling that the Congressional and Senate committees, the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller - may end up staging their final act of the 'play to end all plays' to an empty theatre because most of us will have headed to the exits long ago due to a chronic case of information overload. We've had enough and have already decided on the guilt or innocence of the President, his family and staff, Hillary Clinton and her Swiss Guard, the FBI's 'Keystone cops' Comey, Strzok and Paige, DOJ bigwigs Lynch, Rosenstein and of course all the 'deep state' leakers who shall remain nameless...for now.
Stephan Helgesen is a retired U.S. diplomat and now political analyst and author. He has written eight books and over 750 articles on politics, economics and social trends. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org