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On page four of this morning’s Washington Post (Politics & The Nation Section) we find “Dean Challenges Obama to Deliver Reform: ‘Public Option Non-Negotiable Democrat Says “: “The worst thing that could happen is to pass a bill without a public option,” he told about 200 union workers and Democratic volunteers in a fiery speech at a pep rally and picnic here [in Maine] Sunday.

“The president has put together the best health-care [proposal] I’ve ever seen,” Dean said. But, he added, the public option itself is a compromise between liberals who supported a government-run single-payer system and moderates. “We have already made our compromise, and there will be no more compromises in this bill.”

Asked in the interview whether he sees himself as a spokesman for the progressive wing of the party, the man who ran for president saying that he represented the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” replied, “I don’t spend a lot of time seeing myself in general.”

Over on the opinion page we find “No Longer an Option: To Pass Health Reform the Obama Administration Will Have to Ditch its Goal of a Public Plan ,” the editors of the Post say, “To listen to some Democrats talk, reform without a public option is scarcely worth doing. This is crazy.” No one should infer from this, however, that the editors believe Howard Dean is crazy. The most one can infer is that they believe his insistence on a public option is crazy.

Meanwhile,  the headline for three letters to the editor on the same opinion page asks, Who are You Calling ‘Crazy’?’ ” The letters responding to Rick Perlstein’s August 16 article Crazy is a Pre-existing Condition: Birthers, Town Hall Hecklers and the Return of Right Wing Rage .”

All of which brings to mind Walker Percy’s novel  Love in the Ruins; The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World , the opening paragraph of which reads:

Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?

Two more hours could tell the story. One way or the other. Either I am right and a catastrophe will occur, or it won’t and I’m crazy. In either case, the outlook is not so good.

Someone needs to break out the ole’ Ontological Lapsometer before it’s too late.

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