Saturday, July 18, 2009

The recently deceased CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite came in first in a 1973 poll when Americans were asked which public figures they most trusted. Who was runner-up? Richard Nixon. The avuncular Cronkite was, of course, a natural; but Richard Nixon in second place? This certainly says something about the People's Judgement. I don't know when this poll was taken, but by April of 1973 the Watergate scandal had already claimed presidential aides Haldeman and Erlichman as well as advisor John Dean. Nixon, a long-time supporter of Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism, had for years been the target of cartoons asking, e.g., "Would you buy a used car from this man?" Dwight Eisenhower, under whom Nixon served as veep, had already become disillusioned with him, and he had been involved in influence-peddling scandals. Yet Nixon came in second in the poll. Would you trust anyone's judgement who voted for him? Could Cronkite (no fan of Nixon's) have felt all that honored?

Similarly, could anyone still take Nobel Peace Prizes seriously after Henry Kissinger --perpetrator of the secret bombings of Cambodia among other crimes -- won one, also in 1973?

And finally, while I'm on the subject of significance, what about the critics of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor who claim that her reputation was somehow hurt when the Court overturned her judgement in the case of the New Haven fire fighters. The Court decision was by a 5 to 4 vote. I guess that means that at least 4 justices of the actual court were equally unfit. By logical extension, any justices on the losing side of a Supreme Court case are not fit to serve. Has any sitting justice always been on the winning side of every case? Of course not. Why do the news media even report such nonsense?

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