You know respect for authority is too high when people start complaining that no one respects authority anymore. Obviously, this rule doesn’t apply to authority figures themselves. From principals to police chiefs, professional authorities spend their lives astonished by the rate of public disobedience. But ordinary Americans shouldn’t think that way. Once Curt Schilling can get a job at Breitbart or Donald Trump can win in Arizona by saying people don’t appreciate cops, you know things have gotten out of hand. Sure enough, Gallup has released a new poll in which the portion of Americans who express “a great deal of respect for the police” has reached 76%, up 12 points from last year. I think we can agree that’s way too high.
If you’re eating something, spit it out right now. Don’t swallow it, because you’ll only see it again seconds later. Gallup has released the results of its annual poll to determine the men and women Americans most admire, and Glenn Beck has tied with Pope Benedict XVI for fourth place. That’s right: the man who made this video (and this video explaining that video) is as well-regarded, among Americans, as God’s official representative on Earth. Barack Obama crushed his division for the second year in a row, topping the list of most-admired men with a healthy margin over the second-place finisher, George W. Bush. Are you beginning to appreciate the sheer insanity of this poll, yet? Arguably legitimate human being Hillary Clinton topped the list of most admired women, but she only beat Sarah Palin by one percent. Maya Angelou remains deadlocked with Margaret Thatcher.
The takeaway from all of this is that Americans respect—or at least claim to respect—a former morning zoo DJ whose television show started four years ago more than the head of the Catholic church. Those of you concerned that people in the office like one of your coworkers better than you might consider, for a moment, of what value the esteem of the mob. Whatever you do, don’t consider what values Beck’s ascent alludes to in the hearts of the American people, or how long such a people can successfully operate a representative democracy. That’s what Dana Milbank at the Washington Post did, and he was forced to draw some ugly conclusions. “All ages have their charlatans,” Milbank writes. “The fact that Beck’s stew of venom and fabrication has been such a triumph probably says less about Beck than about us. He has merely captured the moment.” Zing!