I picked up a local paper the other day and was surprised to find the 1965 essay "If I Were the Devil" by Paul Harvey, one of the great bloviators of the last century, on the second page.

I had read the piece years ago, but I reread it then. The gist of it is that Satan was surely taking over America. The proof was the growing use of drugs and lack of bible instruction in the schools, the spread of pornography and a "do what you please" ethic.

"If I were Satan, I'd just keep doing what I'm doing," Harvey says at the end, confidently intimating that the immolation of the nation in a cesspit of drug intoxication and porn, well before its bicentennial, was just around the corner.

Have Harvey's words proved prophetic? Not exactly. Remember, in 1965 we barely had porn and drugs. Porn consisted of  Playboy images of women with no apparent genitalia, and drugs consisted of crummy weed grown in Mexico. We were getting deeper into an unwinnable war and our main international enemy threatened us every day with World War III, which was certain to end in an apocalyptic tie.

Satan got to work. By 1976, the cornucopia of drugs available in America had gotten considerably fuller, porn was in public theaters and Jimmy Carter, the most pious president of this or possibly any century, was elected. Thanks to the Iranians and the oil sheiks, Harvey's prophecy was starting to look good.

Then Ronald Reagan, who napped in instead of going to church on Sunday and whose wife employed a professional astrologer, was elected President. Satan responded by inventing the VCR, so we could enjoy porn at home. On the drug front, the Prince of Darkness cooked up Ecstasy and cocaine powered first Hollywood, then all of America, but the USA prospered. We won the Cold War, beat the Grenadians and the economy starting running at full steam again.

The first George Bush became President. This was a guy who enjoyed power-boating far more than singing hymns. Satan started the crack epidemic and, realizing that people's best porn tapes inevitably got eaten by their VCR's after repeated playings, came up with the CD, which eventually led to the DVR, the repository of indestructible porn. America went on a tear. The Soviet empire crumbled. We kicked major booty in Kuwait.

Bush was followed by Bill Clinton, the first President to  govern with his pants unabashedly down. Satan doubled down by pushing designer drugs and starting the meth epidemic. Gas was practically free and, thanks to the invention of the Internet by Vice-President Al Gore, so was porn. We won a war in which no Americans whatsoever were killed in action, the economy boomed to unprecedented heights and the US position as the world's only superpower had never been better.

Then we elected another pious clod as President. Disaster struck. He started two wars he couldn't finish and cratered the economy. Proof that Satan doesn't like to be bad-mouthed? Evidence that he only bothers trying to destroy America when our Commander-in Chief calls him out? I think so. Look at the nation's current situation. We have a President who's not overtly religious, but a pretty conventional family man with no notable bad habits. He's kicked a lot of Al Qaeda tail, but otherwise things haven't gotten much better or worse under him. It's apparent Satan just doesn't care about him one way or another.

Satan is a slacker. He sits down in his place, enjoying drugs and porn, maybe watching old movies featuring himself, like Rosemary's Baby or The Exorcist. He's only moved to destroy America when America gets psyched about destroying him.  The lesson here is to let sleeping Satan lie. If you really can't get up in the morning without starting to bad-mouth the Devil, you need to learn to calm down.

And if you can't do that on your own, we have drugs for it.

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