American Anger Hotter Than the Weather ... for Good Reason

JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater snaps, hurls obscenities, grabs some beer and slides down an emergency exit – tossing away a 20-year career. And he smiles on his way to lockup. An angry customer “loses her cool at an Ohio McDonald’s.” She gets upset they stopped selling Chicken McNuggets, so she attacks several employees through the drive-thru window and goes to jail.


Even Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs got into the act, bashing liberal critics. Those who think Obama is “like George Bush,” he said, “ought to be drug-tested.” Gibbs later recanted, calling his complaints “inartful.”


High unemployment, high stress and even higher temperatures have people steamed coast to coast. “In the U.S. Midwest, excessive heat warnings were issued for nine states along the Mississippi River and a heat advisory covers parts of seven more, the weather service said yesterday,” wrote Bloomberg Aug. 10. Many of the states that aren’t sweltering now, have been in recent weeks.


To put it simply: America is losing its cool.


If you are the party in power, that’s seldom good. Last year’s town hall battles over supposed healthcare reform escalated during the August recess. Much of our nation’s history of unrest happened in warmer weather – civil rights protests, race riots, the Stonewall riot and more. When it’s hot, tempers fray more quickly. Anger and resentment turn into heated confrontation. “Fight the power” can turn quickly to “burn, baby, burn.”


Only the Russians seem to revolt in the cold. It’s the summer of our discontent that really matters. Americans celebrate our revolution in the heat of July. So do the French. Their fight against the monarchy went on for a long time, but they stormed the Bastille on July 14.


In 2010, American disgust at all things revolting in Washington is boiling over. This year there are more reasons for anger than we’ve had for a long time. For starters, try 9.5 percent unemployment, 14.6 million unemployed, another 1.2 million discouraged and a White House prediction it won’t get any better until 2012.


Public sentiment is so strong that ABC tracks what it calls “America’s Frustration Index.”  According to anchor George Stephanopoulos, dissatisfaction is “the most we’ve seen in wave election years.” As contributor Matthew Dowd explained: “In this election, suburbia is swinging back at Washington.”


Who can blame them? Everywhere ordinary Americans turn, the politicians they elected have turned against them or are turning their backs. The deficit is projected to be $1.47 trillion and to top $1 trillion each year for the foreseeable future. The economic recovery promised by the mega-stimulus hasn’t taken hold and Congress is trying to pass another stimulus. They’ve passed so many that this one isn’t a sequel to the one before but a prequel to the next.


Ethics allegations against top Democrats in Congress Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters are showing Democratic promises of good behavior are worth the same as promises to read the bills they pass. New York Times Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman spoke for the rest of the liberal political class when he told ABC’s “This Week” the massive ethics investigation against the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, “really has no national significance.”


On core value issues like immigration, gay marriage and the insanely misguided New York mosque plan, middle America is left out of the decision-making process so the PC crowd can pander to the new protected classes that promise votes and contributions.


The oil crisis is the Gulf has passed but cleanup remains, and both highlight the failure of government to prevent, solve or clean up a problem. America’s two wars continue as brave men and women risk their lives while some anti-American idiot at Wikileaks.org releases classified material putting them at risk.


With a huge assist from the Bush administration, Obama has created the worst of all possible worlds – a high-tax, low-performance government – sort of a trillion-dollar Yugo. America, even The Washington Post admits in “Top Secret America,” is so overwhelmed that it can’t even fight the war on terror in any organized fashion.


Thanks to maturing technologies of Twitter, blogs and online video, Americans are aware of every item on this list, and they’re steamed. Rather than blame Washington, the equally out-of-touch media have been blaming the citizens themselves. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews summed it up by criticizing Republicans for “pandering to angry white people.” Bill Clinton’s former labor secretary Robert Reich warned of the scary threat of “angry right-wing populism.”


More than any other group, the tea parties have channeled America’s anger at Washington. The media haven’t pulled any punches, calling tea parties “angry,” “nasty” and “Astroturf.” In the past year alone, ABC, CBS and NBC mentioned some form of “anger” associated with the tea parties 178 times, according to Nexis.


As each day passes and the election looms, it seems the anger grows. Wildfires burn out of control in Russia, but political wildfires are catching here. Politicians aren’t trying to solve our problems or even listen. Instead, they foolishly think their added hot air will cool a nation’s anger.


Sometimes it isn’t the heat, it’s the stupidity.

 

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.