07/12/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Insincere, Cynical and Calculating

Alex Lunkin, a true intellectual. was born in Rumania in the late eighteen nineties and became my friend thirty or so years ago. He would often say to me something like "Norman, if you continue to have expectations of reasonableness and sanity in the world, you are doomed."

As usual, I have visited The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition to determine the exact meaning of disingenuous and found the following:

"The meaning of disingenuous has been shifting about lately, as if people were unsure of its proper meaning. Generally, it means "insincere" and often seems to be a synonym of 'cynical' or 'calculating.' Not surprisingly, the word is used often in political contexts, as in It is both insensitive and disingenuous for the White House to describe its aid package and the proposal to eliminate the federal payment as "tough love." This use of the word is accepted by 94 percent of the Usage Panel. Most Panelists also accept the extended meaning relating to less reproachable behavior. Fully 88 percent accept disingenuous with the meaning "playfully insincere, faux-naif," as in the example "I don't have a clue about late Beethoven!" he said. The remark seemed disingenuous, coming from one of the world's foremost concert pianists. Sometimes disingenuous is used as a synonym for naive, as if the dis- prefix functioned as an intensive (as it does in certain words like disannul) rather than as a negative element. This usage does not find much admiration among Panelists, however. Seventy-five percent do not accept it in the phrase a disingenuous tourist who falls prey to stereotypical con artists."

Noticed the following today, which I will paraphrase:

Republican Senators opened a campaign Tuesday to stall Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's Senate confirmation process, arguing that Democrats had scheduled hearings too quickly, and one Republican lawmaker saying her answers about abortion and gun rights will give pause to conservatives.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont said Tuesday he would begin confirmation hearings for Judge Sotomayor on July 13, saying he chose the early date in part because of visceral attacks from conservative pundits.

But Republican Senators said her lengthy judicial record -- which has become a central selling point for Democrats and the White House -- makes a speedy timeline inappropriate.

"I assume by stressing judicial experience they are saying that this overwhelmingly deep, broad, and vast judicial record provides us the basis on which to judge the nominees fitness for the Supreme Court," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and veteran member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Well, that coin has two sides. The flip side is that a 17-year judicial career that has produced thousands of judicial decisions takes time adequately to evaluate and properly to consider," he said.

And now please consider the definition of disingenuous and see of it fits the Republican argument.

"Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating: an ambitious, disingenuous, philistine, and hypocritical operator, who ... exemplified the most disagreeable traits of his time"

This sentence would be "candid, sincere, and honest" if the Republicans were to make it: "We oppose Judge Sotomayor because of who she is and the politics of the President who nominated her. Because of this we will do whatever is in our power to prevent her from being a Supreme Court Justice." It would be so refreshing if they were to tell the truth. Now how unusual would that be,

I expect that when you are in a position of major power that people around you have difficulty in taking issue with what you say.

In retrospect, Alex was in fact an optimist, and I continue to have expectations of reasonableness and sanity and I continue to be disappointed as I am with the Republican reactions to the Sonja Sotomayor nomination.

I am sad that "the media" does not ever react to "stupid" coming from either the Democrats or the Republicans."

But why should this be any different then all of the other times that they are "silent?"