Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

All week the word I kept thinking of was “braced.” America is braced, like people who are going fast and see a crash ahead. They know huge and historic challenges are here. They’re not confident they can or will be met. Our most productive citizens are our most sophisticated, and our most sophisticated have the least faith in the ability of our institutions to face the future and get us through whole. They have the least faith because they work in them…

On Wednesday, in an interview with Politico, Dick Cheney warned of the possible deaths of “perhaps hundreds of thousands” of Americans in a terror attack using nuclear or biological weapons. “I think there is a high probability of such an attempt,” he said.

When the interview broke and was read on the air, I was in a room off a television studio. For a moment everything went silent, and then a makeup woman said to a guest, “I don’t see how anyone can think that’s not true.”