Is America gullible or cynical?

Today it is impossible to tell what is up or down, left or right and black or white. Photo: Obama/ AP

CHARLOTTENovember 19, 2013  Back in the day when veteran broadcaster Walter Cronkite signed off his newscast with “And that’s the way it is….” the country took a collective sigh of relief and finished its dinner. Grandfather Cronkite had spoken and all was right with the world.

Flash forward three decades. Think about those words now, “And that’s the way it is….” Or is it?  How can we really know?

Maybe Daddy Walter was shading the truth in his era too, but, even during the worst of times, we somehow knew everything would be all right. Cronkite just told us it would.

Today it is impossible to tell whether up is down, left is right or black is white. “That’s the way it is” could be true, but more likely it’s “Not the way it is at all.”

Biased as media has become on both sides, most analysts still hesitate to definitively state what sometimes seems obvious to even the most casual observer. When two noted personalities such as Bob Woodward and Bill O’Reilly both say they believe Barack Obama is sincere in his goal to provide universal healthcare to millions of people, it begins to look like a stretch.

There are really only two possibilities. The Obamacare fiasco is either by design to corrupt the American system of government and inflict economic turmoil, or it is, as Woodard and O’Reilly say a case of gross incompetence. Neither is good, but one scenario is sinister while the other is simply poor management.

With the onslaught of conservative talk radio during that past two decades combined with the rapid proliferation of social media, Americans are becoming more in tune with the spin being spouted by politicians, or, at least, we think we are. Therein lies the problem. Are the doubts we feel real or imagined? Are we gullible or have we just become cynical?

Credible journalists often speculate about the interpretation of words and phrases these days by parsing them to the letter. But do they honestly believe what they are reporting or must they qualify their thoughts in order to retain some level of neutrality?

Individually, events such as Obamacare, Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the red line in Syria, the Arab Spring, Solyndra and a host of other controversies might have been smoothed over by political spin. Given the magnitude of their cumulative effects on the psyche of the nation however, there are reasons to believe that something sinister is at work other than mere incompetence.

Five years into the Obama presidency, the economy continues to sputter on half of its cylinders. Even if things were as bad as the president claims they were under George Bush, a country with the resources, manpower and entrepreneurship of the United States should have bounced back to a significantly higher level of productivity than it has.

Politicians are finding it increasingly difficult to spin as they once did. Americans no longer buy into comments such as “We have to pass the bill before we can see what’s in the bill” or “You didn’t build that” or “What difference does it make?”

Certainly Woodward and O’Reilly are far from gullible, but at some point even they must stop giving the benefit of the doubt when misinformation is so blatantly obvious.

Whether we agreed with politicians in the past or not, there were certain unwritten rules by which the game of politics was played. Everyone understood how it worked and, even during its most dubious moments, it was part of the how government worked in America.

Everybody understood the rules because “That’s the way it was….”

Those days are long past. Even Barack Obama’s most loyal supporters often have no idea where he is coming from with is policies. There are czars with more power than the president’s cabinet. We have advisors with ties to terrorist organizations. This administration has the lowest percentage of people working in the White House with any practical business experience of any presidency in history. The president is more inclined to play golf in the middle of a crisis than to be in the war room monitoring the situation.

How can such ideologies instill Father Cronkite’s sense of security everything  is all right, even during a crisis, because “That’s the way it is…”?

It would be nice to return to those “halcyon days” when we believed our leaders told the truth. Sadly, we have outgrown our gullibility because it is not possible for Washington to be so incompetent. Even though Woodward and O’Reilly claim that it is.

Which means all that remains is cynicism. One thing we all sense. Something is wrong in this country. We no longer live in the same United States we have always known. It’s troubling, but “That’s the way it is.”

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (  

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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