I am declaring a national state of emergency, because if you squint into the sky there is an enormous Death Star hovering just to the left of the moon. It might be a bee or a cloud, but I think we had better declare a state of emergency just in case. It is certainly real and happening, and if it is not, we will still be able to run some B-roll footage about it on Fox News for the better part of a month, and that is about the same as happening.
I am declaring a state of emergency because — and this is awful, but I’m hearing it from many sources — an enormous army of suffragette ghosts is massing in the hills, and it is impossible to say how we will begin to deal with them.
I am declaring a state of emergency because I went to my favorite coffee shop and instead of ordering quiche like a normal person, I said, “Is there quiche happenin'?" and now I can never go back there.
I am declaring a state of emergency because last night I dreamed of six fat bulls and six lean bulls who ate the fat bulls, and we all know what that means, don’t we?
I am declaring a state of emergency because people sometimes walk too slowly in front of me on the sidewalk and I have places to be!
I am declaring a state of emergency because I went back to my favorite restaurant and I ordered the same thing I always order but it was different somehow, wrong, and I don’t know what this means yet, but it has got to mean something, and we cannot rest until we have tasted everything that was good in the past to make certain nothing horrible is happening.
I am declaring a state of emergency because someone on the Internet said something mean about me, and I think it will be bad for the crops. Do not ask me exactly how I came to this conclusion; I cannot tell you.
I am declaring a state of emergency because nobody believes in me, evidenced by the fact that nobody is clapping enough. This was how Tinker Bell died.
I am declaring a state of emergency because I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and — would you believe — my value, my instinctive sense of my own worth, had dropped by $200,000! Just overnight!
I am declaring a state of emergency because kids these days are always on their cellphones. I am declaring a state of emergency because I thought I saw a cricket. I am declaring a state of emergency for every reason other than emergencies that are really happening.
There are two types of crisis. One type of crisis — for the want of any verb more suitable — exists, can be measured and produces an impact on people’s lives whether they turn on their televisions that day or not. It is observable, produces tangible effects and is, for lack of a better word, real. The other one, not to put too fine a point on it — isn’t.
But the good news, as the nation may learn tonight when the president addresses us, is that — thanks to Fox News, Facebook and the tireless efforts of the highest office in the land — this second is the kind we have to worry about now, more often than in the past, where (with periodic exceptions; there was a brief spell, for instance, during which you could will weapons of mass destruction into being if you just closed your eyes and thought about them hard enough) real crises were the only type available.
Now, presented with hard evidence that one crisis — climate change, or the murder of a journalist — is happening, you have a new option, which is to say, “No, I don’t like this. This didn’t happen. Instead, I’d prefer for something else to be happening.” And then it just … can happen! Or, at least, be televised.
But the trouble with manufactured crises is that real people keep getting caught in them. In the course of fighting off imaginary phantoms, we have condemned real children to die, or put them in cages. As we close the government that we may better fight our imaginary foe, millions of real people are facing eviction and hunger and the loss of their paychecks.
The president resides somewhere these facts do not touch. So he lurches from imaginary crisis to imaginary crisis while the real ones pile up and take a devastating toll.
I wish he would pick an imaginary crisis that was not so bent on crushing real people in its steel-and-concrete jaws. If only wishing made it so.
Read more from Alexandra Petri: