“They love me,” said the singer, wiping a mustard-covered tomato from his forehead

I’m not an actor or a dramatist by training. I play Patrick Henry here on the farm because I’m cheap and generally more available than the professional alternatives. I say this because I simply don’t have the self-confidence of someone with the white-hot self-worship of an Elizabeth Warren or a Jussie Smollett.

I once knew a musician who was very talented and a pretty good showman, but, like all performers, and most stand-up comics, he occasionally had a bad day, misread his audience, and would, on occasion, die on stage so powerfully you could hear the crickets four miles away.  To make it worse, it was usually on the heels of some supremely tasteless joke at the audience’s expense — some observation, between tunes about the way someone in the front row dressed or smiled or smelled. It got so bad I would sometimes worry about his physical safety. It was easy to imagine him having to beat off the audience with his banjo.

The odd thing? It didn’t matter if he earned real applause or simmering resentment. He always thought he was the hit of the night. He could walk off the stage reeking of rotten vegetables hurled at him by the audience and he would wonder, out loud, if they wanted an encore.

Frankly, I envy this iron-clad, triple-walled ego heat shield. Given my present circumstances, it would come in handy, but I know that it would probably come at the expense of all of my family and friends. You simply can’t be that insulated from the other people in the room without bruising them–or achieving “great leader” status.

And, given our politicians and celebrities, that’s what I’m worried about. Our culture is capable of delivering withering, frightening abuse on a level never before seen. Everyone now has their own show, their own social media accounts, their own ability to throw enough rotten vegetables to bury you in them six miles deep–and that, in turn, rewards a particular kind of psyche never before seen in the public square.

The Elizabeth Warren and the Jussie Smollett show, in other words.

Watching a defiant Jussie Smollett stride into court, on the heels of staging a fake MAGA attack and crying about it, but still carrying himself as though he were Henry V after the battle of Agincourt and then DEMANDING the case be covered by live television — well, in the long history of polished metals, that has to be the most blinding display of high-sheen brass  the world has ever seen: “I staged a particularly idiotic fake crime and now I’m accepting worship for it.”

And Elizabeth Warren’s elbow-reflex, making a “zero” sign as she affirmed, without hesitation, that bribing your way into an elite university deserved no one’s sympathy — this from the blondie-bitty playing Cherokee for decades, allowing herself to be billed as a Native American faculty member, checking the Native American box on every application, and carrying herself as though she had selflessly helped the Pilgrims through their first winter–how is so little self-awareness even possible?

In Christian theology there is a state of grace associated with a believer being able, in the next life, to contemplate the beauty and the goodness of the Son of God for eternity.

Jussie and Elizabeth have the same sort of thing going, except they are smack dab at the center of this contemplation.  They are auditioning for the Jesus part. It should worry you, more than a little, that Elizabeth probably thinks this is the way to casually sip a brew.