Dignity in America

20 July 2009 |permalink | email article

One of the least mean-spirited conservative columnists in America today is David Brooks of The New York Times who recently addressed a rare and important subject: dignity in politics.

Here’s an excerpt: “Whatever policy differences people may have with (Obama), we can all agree that he exemplifies reticence, dispassion and other traits associated with dignity…He may revitalize the concept of dignity for a new generation and embody a new set of rules for self-mastery.”

Brooks added that the dignity code itself in America has been completely obliterated. “The rules that guided Washington and generations of people after him are simply gone.”

Frank Rich’s masterful putdown of conservative Republican senators unsuccessfully trying to destroy Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s sense of dignity in her Supreme Court confirmation hearing was an important illustration of what Brooks had in mind.

“Southern senators who relate every question to race, ethnicity and gender just assumed that their unreconstructed obsessions are America’s and that their country would find them riveting. The Sotomayor questioners also assumed a Hispanic woman….could be portrayed as The Other and patronized like a greenhorn unfamiliar with How We Do Things Around Here. The senators seemed to have no idea they were describing themselves when they tried to caricature Sotomayor as an overemotional, biased ideologue.”

Yes, dignity matters.



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