"'Crazy county judge' makes Lubbock a national laughingstock," jibed a Houston Chronicle August 24 headline.
The blog, by Chronicle Washington writer Rick Dunham, referred to County Judge Tom Head's concern, aired in a local Fox interview, that the possible re-election of President Obama would ignite civil conflict and prompt Obama to call in the United Nations to quell the disturbance.
Texas might be a focal point for the U.N. invasion, Head fretted, perhaps because of talk of secession rumbling over the plains and prairies throughout the past year.
Texas Democrat Chairman Gilbert Hinojosa suggested Judge Head might be suffering mental incompetency, and called for Head's resignation, while trying to harness GOP Senate candidate Ted Cruz to Head's alleged trek to weirdsville.
So, announced the Chronicle, everybody is laughing at Judge Head.
Like they did Noah. Maybe.
Lubbock seems as far from the spiritual-moral-social-political-cultural tempest roiling America as that Mesopotamian dry gulch where Noah built his big boat was from the world's seven seas. No wonder Noah was a "national laughingstock."
Judge Head wants to build an ark of supply and defense in the event civil disorder floods the nation, and cuts off survival essentials while foreign troops invade the land.
Maybe the hot sun simmering the Lubbock landscape has addled Judge Head's head. Maybe the stewing division and anger in our nation has driven him to the edge of sanity, as it has many others.
But I'm not ready to leap to that conclusion. Or to sit in the seat of the scornful. Or to join in those laughing at Judge Head.
Years ago as a young tiger on the Nixon staff I was assigned for a period to the White House speaker's bureau. I was far down the food chain, and was dispatched to what Washington considered the backwaters of the nation.
I would return from places like Carlsbad, Jackson, Waco, or Harrisburg with my ears full and aching with the anger, anguish, and emotional fire sweeping the grassroots. I would want to run up and down the White House corridors, shouting, "You people need to get out of this walled compound, and go listen to what the real people are saying!"
Judge Head, "crazy" or not, is real people. He doesn't have jurisdiction over the whole of America. But to his mind, addled or not, he has jurisdiction over a small tidbit, and that jurisdiction means responsibility.
As I write in my book, Globequake, in the 70 years I've been alive and more than 40 I've engaged with the political, social, cultural, and church spheres, I've never known more division, anger, and angst than now – and that includes covering the civil rights crisis in the Deep South and working in the Watergate-era White House.
With all my heart I pray Judge Head is wrong, but I'm not ready to laugh at him. I've read the story of Noah.