I’m now fifty. Half a century sure sounds like a long time. It got me to thinking; my Dad turned fifty the month after I was born. Yeah, I was a late life baby. Now we have come full circle, where he was once, I now am. Amazing how quickly the years can slip like sand through a child’s fingers or like time through an hourglass.
I think about how things have changed in that fifty years. The Cold War is over, medical science has made great strides, going to the dentist isn’t nearly as scary, at least for me, as it used to be, and politicians are, well, virtually unchanged. I say virtually because I have noticed one thing about them: They get away with lying, much more than they once did. I remember seeing some of them on television, back when I was a kid; they were always careful in choosing their words. My Dad and I always loved the movie, “All the President’s Men.” There was a catch phrase, non-denial denial, the reporters used to describe certain responses from their sources to mean they, the sources, weren’t saying, “No.” Instead, the source would provide a generic answer that could mean almost anything. During the height of the Watergate scandal, members of the Nixon Administration were downright geniuses at dancing around the truth.
As my Dad said, “They, the politicians, put Fred Astaire to shame!”
I was only a kid, but even I got the reference, and I was outraged that the politicians wouldn’t answer the reporters’ questions. Yet, I don’t see that happening these days. Almost daily, politicians go on “news” programs and say anything they want and the “reporter” lets them get away with it. I’m forever mystified as to why that is, but I think it has to do with the nature of news reporting. Where once, reporters like Cronkite were concerned with reporting the news to their viewers, “reporters” today are concerned with maintaining access to the politicians and getting good ratings.
Calling out a liar is not conducive to preserving access.
Now we live in an era where politicians are free to say anything they want. To be honest, I can’t imagine a scarier world to live in; that’s coming from someone who grew up with the Cold War! I never thought I would look back at my youth and use that lame old expression: “Back in the Good Old Days.” My Dad always hated that one, as he never looked back at his youth with any longing, other than a desire to be young again. No, he saw how things had improved over time: medicine, life expectancy, social justice, transportation media and so on.
For myself, I agree with him completely, on all those issues. When it comes to politics, yeah, that old saying does seem to apply. It’s not that I think the politicians of old were any more honest than the ones today; it’s just that they couldn’t get away with as much.
I wonder what the next fifty years holds.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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