When one recalls how the military and police were regarded in the 1960s, the former being trashed for "the dirty and immoral war" in Vietnam, and the latter being called "racists" and "pigs" for battling campus radicals and urban rioters, what a difference a few decades can make.
What these surveys suggest is that the New Left of the 1960s was and is over-represented in the media depictions of that era. Some baby boomers were indeed in the mud at Woodstock. But others were in the mud at Khe Sanh. And large majorities of baby boomers helped deliver to Ronald Reagan his historic landslides in 1980 and 1984.
Half of all Americans yet retain confidence in organized religion, an institution not wildly popular with our cultural and media elites. Yet, the churches retain twice the level of confidence of the newspapers, and more than twice the level of confidence of television news, which ranks just below "the banks" at 22 percent.
This explains why the public is less enthusiastic than the press about enacting "shield laws" to protect journalists' sources.
While the number of those having a high measure of confidence in the medical system has risen from 36 percent to 40 percent during this year of debate on health care, confidence in the public schools fell from 38 percent to 34 percent. Despite immense infusions of federal cash, the public schools are still bleeding public esteem.
As for Big Business, confidence there is not one-third that of small business. Washington, Wall Street, New York -- our media and financial capital -- and the Business Roundtable are not beloved.
If one takes only those institutions generally regarded as liberal and Democratic -- newspapers, TV news, unions and Congress, not one enjoys the high confidence of even half of those Americans who have confidence in the church and religion. Even the honored office Obama occupies has lost one-fourth of the confidence it inspired a year ago.
In short, the Gallup Poll showing soldiers, small businesses, cops, preachers and pastors to be trusted, while journalists, bankers, big business, unions and congressmen are not mirrors the message of polls showing that conservatives now outnumber liberals two-to-one.
Those institutions in society perceived as dominated by liberals are also, perhaps not coincidentally, the least trusted in the land.
The pendulum is swinging back.
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