It's amazing that as the 20th Century escapes from our rear view mirror, some hippies are still recycling their Sixties angst. For God's sakes, it's almost 2007. Can't someone graduate from college without a baby boomer commencement speaker pulling out a handkerchief over the sorry state of the world since the idealists shook their last tambourine on the Ed Sullivan Show?
The guilt-soaked commencement address was a common theme as 58 judges put on their reading glasses to select the Media Research Center's "Best of Notable Quotables," the annual compendium of very real press inanities. The "Quote of the Year" was awarded to New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. In a May 21 speech to graduates in New Paltz, New York, Junior poured out his apologies for the sorry state of the world passed on to the new graduates by negligent baby boomers.
You see, our youngsters aren't supposed to be graduating into an "America fighting a misbegotten war," where people still have to fight for "fundamental human rights," such as the right to immigrate illegally, to marry someone of the same sex, and to terminate inconvenient pregnancies. He also lamented giving them a world where "oil still drove policy and environmentalists had to fight relentlessly for every gain."
It was an obnoxious liberal sermon. This man is supposed to lead the nation's most distinguished newspaper, but all he delivered was waah, waah, waah. A respectable newspaper publisher, lamenting that illegals don't have legal rights? If we gave these illegal those rights, they'd no longer be illegals — and he'd probably complain about that, too.
Coming in close behind in the "Slam Uncle Sam" category was another New York Times orator, Supreme Court gashouse Linda Greenhouse. In a June speech at Harvard, Greenhouse agonized that the promise of Sixties America was squandered, and our government has created "law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world. And let's not forget the sustained assault on women's reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism." This quote didn't fully capture the larger picture of angst, so Greenhouse explained to students that she wept uncontrollably through the second half of a Simon and Garfunkel concert when she considered the decline of America.
But the ridiculous quotes are almost too numerous to mention. Here's some other winning doozies:
The headline in US News & World Report on state ballot initiatives on the minimum wage: "Vote Democratic, Earn More."
MSNBC screamer Keith Olbermann feeling so angry that Fox's Chris Wallace supposedly put Bill Clinton through the wringer that he insulted him as "a monkey posing as a newscaster."
Dan Rather once again saying he believes in the phony Bush National Guard memo story "absolutely." (Here insert pained Al Gore sigh — or Dean scream.)
Bryant Gumbel trashing the Winter Olympics for being too white, so devoid of blacks that "the Winter Games look like a GOP convention."
ABC's Terry Moran getting so enraptured by his man-crush on Barack Obama that he actually reported from Iowa, "they're even naming babies after him!"
Katie Couric (at NBC) lecturing Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan that creating a Florida town based on Catholic values was "de facto segregation" that is "really infringing on civil liberties and freedom of speech and right to privacy and all sorts of basic tenets that this country was founded on."
Katie Couric (at NBC) telling Al Gore his movie showed he was "funny, vulnerable, disarming, self-effacing," and should have been electable in 2000.
Katie Couric (at CBS) spreading the conspiracy theory that lower gas prices might be "an election-year present from President Bush to fellow Republicans."
CNN's Jack Cafferty proclaiming that Sen. Arlen Specter was "all that's standing between us and a full-blown [Bush] dictatorship in this country."
Of course, some reporters actually do like dictatorships, especially the Cuban kind. AP's Vanessa Arrington reported that under the thumb of Fidel Castro, Cubans still enjoy "a rich and accessible cultural life" and "a leisurely lifestyle," not to mention "their free education system, high literacy rates, and top-notch doctors."
Perhaps Ms. Arrington and Mr. Sulzberger can counsel college graduates to consider emigrating to Cuba, where even legal citizens have no rights.