Who Killed Dignity? Ask Sanford, Jacko, Palin ...

Today's celebs would make George Washington blush
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 7, 2009 8:51 AM CDT
In this June 24, 2009, photo, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford pauses during a news conference, where he admitted to having an affair.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Carrying himself with honor and restraint was of utmost importance to George Washington and Americans for generations afterward—but for today’s public figures, the premium on dignity has faded, says David Brooks in the New York Times. Washington’s conduct “during times of temptation” made him “a great man,” one historian wrote; try pointing that out to adulterer Mark Sanford, out-of-control Michael Jackson, or quitter Sarah Palin.

America still loves the dignified (see Joe DiMaggio, MLK), “but the dignity code itself has been completely obliterated,” Brooks writes. To blame: capitalism, which encourages self-promotion; “the cult of naturalism,” which tells us to let our feelings run wild; “charismatic evangelism,” calling for “public confession”; and “radical egalitarianism,” which hates “aristocratic manners.” Fortunately, we’ve still got the “reticent, dispassionate” Barack Obama.