Jonah Goldberg

"The high standards and wise judgments of people like Walter Cronkite once acted as a national immune system, zapping scandal mongers and quashing wild rumors," wrote former "green jobs czar" Van Jones in Sunday's New York Times.

This may be one of the most unintentionally hilarious lines in recent memory. Jones, you may recall, left the White House when his background -- not just as an alleged 9/11 truther but as a self-confessed "Communist" and "revolutionary" -- became grist for the Fox News mill. Mainstream publications mostly ignored the controversy until after he was fired, and then focused on the fact that he directed an expletive at Republicans in a YouTube video.

Now Jones, with billets at Princeton and the Center for American Progress, casts himself as yet another victim, just like Shirley Sherrod, the Department of Agriculture employee fired after Andrew Breitbart released a misleadingly edited video of her. (Breitbart, a friend of mine, insists to me that he did not edit the video himself.)

You've just got to love a former member of STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement), a Mao-influenced organization with a professed "commitment to the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism," giving Walter Cronkite -- the dashboard saint of American bourgeois conformity -- his due as the bulwark of decency. Yes, yes, Jones says he's grown and is no longer the Red he was even a few years ago. But come on.

For generations, conservatives lamented the decline in standards. When Hollywood portrayed glandular instincts as the new moral compass of the secular age, conservatives waxed nostalgic over the lost decency of the "studio system." When the education industry shelved the great books in favor of hugs, conservatives lamented the demise of the three Rs and the "closing of the American mind." When the left became enamored with a "riot ideology" that mistook lawlessness for political protest, conservatives invoked "law and order." Name a front in the political and culture wars, and conservatives defended the authority of authority and the tradition of tradition, while liberals and leftists defended sticking it to the man.

But now that the legacy media is one of the last resources the left still has at its disposal, even Comrade Jones isn't immune to mossy nostalgia for Walter Cronkite (who, by the way, is easily one of the most overrated American icons).


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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