Just another date night in 21st century America as Times Square is evacuated by a crude car bomb while the President delivers one-liners to black-tied media in Washington.
“We are very lucky,” New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg tells a 2 a.m. press conference after the disarming of an amateurish device of gasoline, barbecue-grill propane and fireworks. “We avoided what could have been a very deadly event.”
He is right, of course, in the might-have-been sense, had the "bomb" been the work of professional terrorists rather than some disturbed wannabe who will eventually be tracked down to everyone's relief.
There is the same sense of unreality about the President's performance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, with Barack Obama making ritual jokes about his ratings woes in a time of real slime threatening America's waters and social disturbance polluting the air.
Some of his jokes--about the Birthers, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Joe Biden's open-mic bleep--were fairly funny, but it's hard to avoid a fiddling-while-Rome-burns feeling about what was happening there last night as well as in Manhattan, where "The show must go on" bromide did not prevail as some Broadway houses stayed dark and others, including the aptly named "God of Carnage," started late.
Those who doubt that we are all living in some bizarre TV reality show now might want to keep notes about what happened last night when it all seemed like a dress rehearsal for something more real to come.
Update: New York's police commissioner says there is no evidence of a terrorist plot and that a suspect seen on surveillance cameras is being sought. "The intent," he says, "was to cause mayhem."
That it did.