The shelf life of heroes isn’t what it used to be.

Once upon a time, a hero would burst upon the scene — a Charles A. Lindbergh, a Babe Ruth, a Red Grange, an Audie Murphy, a Neil Armstrong — and he would not only receive reverent acclaim, that acclaim would last for decades. Sometimes forever.

Not anymore. Now we live in a world of false heroes — people who have done nothing to deserve their heroism save for capturing media attention or satisfying a group of the like-minded. So they come — and inevitably, they go.

Just last week, a Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy was heralded as a modern American patriot for facing down the Bureau of Land Management, when the bureau came to seize his herd after he had refused to pay government fees for grazing on public land. Many Tea Party types raced to his side to cheer him and provide a protective phalanx. Several Republican officeholders extolled his resistance — as if he were a Minuteman.

Bundy basked in the attention. Ain’t no government gonna tell him what to do.

But then Bundy, that great American patriot and hero, began waxing expansively — as many anointed heroes are wont to do. One of the topics on which he expatiated, as detailed in the New York Times, was slavery. Bundy said that African-Americans – “Negroes” as he referred to them — had it better on the plantation than in public housing because, as he put it, they had a skill in the antebellum South. They knew how to pick cotton.

So long heroism. Even those spineless GOP panderers who celebrated a law-breaker couldn’t defend a racist. Just like that, Bundy’s day in the sun was through; except for some militia supporters.