Wednesday, November 9, 2011
"If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it."
Fifty years ago, it seemed that America and other Western democracies were moving toward a society with greater equality and justice. By now, however, it's obvious that we've been going in the opposite direction for quite some time, toward extreme inequality and injustice. We the people have taken a backseat in our own country.
For the last forty years, Andy Rooney was a rare commodity in American broadcast news. By the time the Ronald Reagan era, which included the term of his vice president, was over, the word "liberal" had become so dirty that few Democrats would dare to call themselves one. Bill Clinton, we are told, was a "moderate", a "centrist", which is the only reason why he managed to serve two terms. After eight years of George W. Bush's bungling, Americans expressed their exasperation by electing the first black president. Despite cretinous suggestions the he is a socialist, Obama's liberal credentials are impeccable.
So were Andy Rooney's, even when, for a terribly long time, it was unpopular to insist on pushing liberal values in his newspaper columns and his 60 Minutes segments. He was a curmudgeon whose heart was always in the right place. He was an American. In an age of equivocation, we always knew what he stood for - and why. When his friends try to flatter his late father's memory, Hamlet silenced them by speaking the most moving words I can think of at the moment: "He was a man. Take him for all and all, I shall not look upon his like again."