Frank Rich's Selective Nostalgianomics for Disneyland

Over the weekend, New York Times columnist Frank Rich published a textbook example of the late-breaking lefty nostalgia for the 1950s that was so artfully diagnosed by Reason Contributing Editor Brink Lindsey in his classic 2009 piece "Nostalgianomics." The hook was a documentary about a 1956 family pumped up about going to Disneyland, the lament is that "economic equality seemed within reach in 1956, at least for the vast middle class," and the loss is of "America's faith in its own unbounded future." The Rich kicker:

America can't move forward until we once again believe, as they did, that everyone can enter Frontierland if they try hard enough, and that no one will be denied a dream because a private party has rented out Tomorrowland.

It really wasn't that long ago when public displays of affection for the 1950s were routinely greeted with fury by liberal Baby Boomers. Including, as the Washington Examiner's Byron York unearthed yesterday, Frank Rich in 1995. Here's Rich then on Newt Gingrich's '50sphilia:

May we go back to 1955 for a moment? Mr. Gingrich, who prides himself on knowing history, might profit from checking out modern scholarship on the 50's. He would then learn -- if he doesn't in fact remember -- that the halcyon pre-counterculture era of the Eisenhower Presidency was not all "Father Knows Best" and sunny Norman Rockwell family tableaux for The Saturday Evening Post. [...]

The truth about the 50's is that all the post-World War II fissures in American life were present and simply papered over -- with the aid of racial segregation, the denial of equal social and economic status to women, the repression of homosexuals and the refusal to recognize crimes like wife battering and child abuse. It was inevitable that this phony nirvana would crack at the seams, as it did in the 60's. [...]

If America were such a picture-postcard of familial bliss in 1955, there would have been no reason to create Disneyland, which also opened that year -- with one of its chief attractions being an idyllic all-American (and all-white) Main Street that could no longer be found beyond its gates.

Like Boomer-lefty pining for the days when all good Democrats believed in the "efficacy of government," nostalgianomics requires forgetting not just what happened in America, but how the lamenters themselves reacted to it at the time. Pretty odd, that.

Seriously: Go read Nostalgianomics again.

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  • Fluffy||

    This is just an expanded version of the left's love of 1972 - that magical moment before incomes "stagnated".

    The fact of the matter is that if people chose to live a lifestyle congruent with American middle class living standards from 1956 to 1972, they could do so quite cheaply and on a single earner's income.

    Live as a married couple with one earner outside the home and one inside the home. Buy a house of the average square footage of a house in 1956. Buy only one car. Buy no consumer electronics other than a radio and a television. Do not get cable. Use only as much electricity per day as the average house used in 1956. Drive only as far to commute as the average person drove in 1956. Have a health insurance policy created that will only cover treatments available in 1956. Buy nothing for your children that was not available for purchase in 1956. Eat out only as often as the average family did in 1956. Grow as much of your own food as the average family did in 1956. Have the at-home spouse make as many items for your family's use [clothes, toys, etc.] as the average at-home spouse did in 1956.

    Do all these things, and then come back and tell me how the middle-class lifestyle is out of reach for the average American in 2010.

  • BikeRider||

    +1 Keep in mind that you'll also have a SINGLE wall phone in your house instead of individual cell phones for each member of the household.

  • ||

    That would be a feature.

  • bgates||

    Have a health insurance policy created that will only cover treatments available in 1956.

    I'm pretty sure Obama has made that illegal.

    Grow as much of your own food as the average family did in 1956.

    I kinda think Obama made that illegal too.

  • ||

    No, Wickard v. Filburn did

  • JoshINHB||

    I'm pretty sure Obama has made that illegal will make that inevitable.

    FIFY

  • Number 2||

    As one who grew up in those days and under the circumstances you have described, I, too, am puzzled when I repeatedly hear about how much "better" the middle class had things back then.

    But that is a necesary component of the "Progressive" movement -- to convince the average American that his or her lot in life stinks, that it is all because of untrammelled "capitalism" and the "greed" of the "billionaires" (now defined to include anyone who earns 0.0002 of a billion per year), and that the only thing that will restore the glory days of yore is Progressive regulation and government spending.

  • Number 2||

    Seriously...as far back as the 1960's I have been hearing from self-described "progressives" and their cheerleaders in America that the American Dream is dead, that the Middle Class is under attack, that standards of living are collapsing...for me it has become part of the background noise that I ignore.

  • kiwi dave||

    + lots.

    The same points are made here:
    http://www.wisebread.com/our-h.....f-living-1

  • CatoTheElder||

    An excellent retort, Fluffy. You might have added that one should have and use credit cards and other consumer credit like the average 50's family.

    And, if one behaved in such a manner, one would save and invest at rates comparable with the 50's, and be able to retire on his own resources.

  • J_L_B||

    Another wonderful liberal contradiction: (1) the middle class is struggling because the median salary doesn't cover many of the usual expenses, (2) Americans are overindulgent, overweight consumers who buy, as Chad reminds us, SUVs, McMansions, and cheap Chinese crap. Which one is it?

  • ||

    These TEAM RED TEAM BLUE schmucks change their nostalgia as rapidly as they change their other positions, solely based on what the other TEAM is doing. It's just another manifestation of their absolute lack of intellectual integrity, yet no one but a few seem to notice or call them on it. It's getting to the point where they could flip 180 degrees on the same day and feel no cognitive dissonance over it.

    Anyone else enjoying the storm? I wonder if I'll be able to get out of Logan this evening.

  • ||

    We're flying INTO Logan on Friday. Thankfully, we're supposed to get our own snow here in Denver Thursday night into Friday morning, and we'll probably still be sweeping out the last of the people from the East Coast that missed their post-Christmas flights out of here this weekend. Joy. I hope I get felt up in the security line. At least then it won't be a complete disaster of a travel day.

  • ||

    I'm currently on the phone with the airline trying to get an idea of whether it's even sensible to go to the airport. Of course, the people on the phone are useless, and Logan's website is fucked--everyone must hitting it.

  • ||

    http://www.flightstats.com/go/.....ueryType=0

    Check this out. Don't know if it'll help, but it looks spiffy.

  • ||

    Yeah; I finally got to that, but I don't know if I trust it. Fun.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I was an enthusiastic Ron Paul supporter, so I don't bother going to the airport to find out if I'm on a no-fly list.

  • Janet Napolitano||

    That's not the ONLY list you're on... I saw to that, personally.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Ya I thought Team Blue has been saying for years that Team Red wanted to live life like "Leave it to Beaver" and that is why they are the ultimate evil in the universe.

  • ||

    Them pesky Google-able Intarwebs make Lefty dead-tree-media hacks yearn for the days when their pronouncements (from the time before The Right People (R) were in charge) disappeared conveniently into a landfill or (more politically correctly) recycle bin, so they could do 180's with impunity after regime changes. Call it Journostalgism?

  • Tman||

    I wonder sometimes if they even know that we can google their old articles.

    I wish Frank would read this post and see for himself what a complete hypocritical blowhard he sounds like when he says the opposite of what he said fifteen years ago.

    Apparently a complete lack of self awareness is a prerequisite to write for the ed page of the NYT.

  • ||

    I tried to read Rich's Roger Elizabeth de Bris' incoherent garble, and failed miserably.

    Are only billionaires allowed on Mister Toad's Wild Ride, now?

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    When are leftists going to learn that billionaires want romance, not Mr. Toad's Wild Ride?

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, Rich could weasel out of his contradiction here by just saying that, Yes, Disneyland was a lie, and American optimism in 1956 was built on lies, but that it's nice that people in 1956 were able to believe in lies. Because that meant they could still hope for "progress". While now, evil Reaganism has crushed the spirit of the people, and they no longer are able to believe in nice, happy lies. And this is a bad thing.

    The New York Times has been pretty overtly pro-lie for a while now, so he'd just be fitting in with their editorial policy.

  • Fluffy||

    We're all Straussians now.(TM)

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Is Rich conflating Disneyland with the Potempkin Village concept?

  • shrike||

    You Christ-fags always bring up the Soviet Union, like it was a bad thing.

  • Ted S.||

    I presume this is a shriek parody, but read up on the original Potemkin villages.

  • Max||

    Ron Paul sucks Potemkin's cock while you libtards lick the gism off the ground.

  • ||

    Wow, the 50's were so cool. Those were the days dude!

    www.online-privacy.ie.tc

  • ||

    The anon bot is back! He must have a different holiday schedule than most of us.

  • MNG||

    Is the point of Rich's article that we should vote Ike in 2012?

  • Matt Welch||

    Rich's wriggle out of the Eisenhower problem is awesome to behold: "'Disneyland Dream' was made in the summer of 1956, shortly before the dawn of the Kennedy era." Really, he did that.

  • MNG||

    Just four years and a couple of thousand mob-influenced votes in Chicago from the dawn of the Kennedy era...

  • ||

    Ah, so it was foreshadowing for the coming light of the Kennedys. It all makes sense now.

  • ||

    Ah, so it was foreshadowing for the coming light of the Kennedys.

    Isn't this also foreshadowing of the Kennedy tax cuts?

    But i am pretty sure the left can find a way to blame those tax cuts for causing the now "bad" social and political movements of the 60s.

    The irony of the left lamenting the greatness of the 50s is so sweat i might go into a diabetic coma over this one.

  • Colin||

    Liberals nowadays wax very nostalgic for Eisenhower, especially because of his "military-industrial complex" speech.

    Of course, back in the day, he was Palin with medals.

  • ||

    Not really, Eisenhower was a liberal by today's standards.

    While JFK's opponent was Nixon he spent a lot of time criticizing Ike's foreign policy which he pretty much considered "soft on communism" appeasement.

    And while Kennedy was a New-Deal Democrat (nearly everyone was in those days, even the Republicans), very little of his campaign was on social issues like welfare spending.

    The political landscape of the "left/right" or "liberal/conservative" or even the "Republican?Democrat" divide was considerably different in those days.

  • Chinny Chin Chin||

    Eisenhower supported Social Security, which made him a liberal Republican by his contemporary standards, too.

  • CatoTheElder||

    I imagine that, if asked whether Republicans or Democrats created and stoked the fears of Americans about a "missile gap" with the Soviets in the late 50's, a large majority would confidently answer that it was fear-mongering by the Republicans.

    Instead, according to Wikipedia: The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first use of the term "missile gap" in 14 August 1958 [speech] by John F. Kennedy: "Our Nation could have afforded, and can afford now, the steps necessary to close the missile gap."

  • ||

    very little of his campaign was on social issues like welfare spending.

    ummm the department of education?

    There is a reason why every other school in the county is named after JFK.

  • dave c||

  • ||

    True enough but Kennedy was the first to start dumping federal dollars into k-12 education.

    Carter's part was to form a department around those funds.

  • Colin||

    Again Matt goes after the low-hanging fruit.

  • alan||

    If you could point to any hard to reach peaches sprouting out across the political landscape, I bet Mr. Welch would feel obliged, but take a snack or two on the way so you don't go hungry.

  • ||

    If I (or someone more, err... presentable) were to appear on the national political scene reading John Kennedy's campaign speeches verbatim, Frank Rich would be shrieking in outrage about how such a fiend could be alowed to stalk the land.

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    When the left brings up the rich folks' war on the middle class, I get nostalgic for the '50s too- before LBJ blessed us with Medicare and Wilbur Mills enacted the modern Townshend Plan, er, inflation indexed Social Security.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Like Boomer-lefty pining for the days when all good Democrats believed in the "efficacy of government," nostalgianomics requires forgetting not just what happened in America, but how the lamenters themselves reacted to it at the time.

    Government is efficacious in the things that are important to the elites that run government. Unfortunately, everybody else has to pay for its efficacy with their blood, sweat, and tears.

    So, where is the efficacy in government? Orwell put it pretty well: "imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever." This is what government is and does best. "Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."

  • Brian||

    Rich's own example ruins his point.

    In 1956, taking an airplane across the country for a vacation at Disneyland was a luxury reserved only for the rich and for prize-winners.

    In 2010, taking an airplane across the country for a vacation at Disneyland is easily within reach of the middle class, and is frowned on by the upper class as uncultured.

  • karena||

    realy r u sure!!??

  • karena||

    i like the pictures there soo cool how many more could go on this website i would realy like too know!!!
    ;)

  • karena||

    omg like the pics and good info

  • دردشة||

    thanks

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