A word about this week's comic
THIS WEEK'S COMIC:
BILL O'REILLY'S "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER" NIGHTMARE
CLICK HERE TO READ IT ON BOING BOING
I was struck by the comments (I first saw some of them on The Daily Show) from Dennis Miller, Bernard Goldberg and Bill O'Reilly on FOX News about how the re-election of Barack Obama could mean the end of "traditional America."
O'Reilly's definition of "traditional America" as "Ward, June, Wally and the Beave" is a prime example of the right's fetishization of the America of the late 1950s and early 1960s as the hallmark of American gung-ho individualism, self-reliance and unfettered capitalism.
So the point of this comic was to take him at his word, and look at the Leave It to Beaver world to see whether the values fit in with O'Reilly's definition of "traditional America." This comic focuses on issues of egalitarianism, but my old friend David Frum points out that there is also far more freedom from government than there was in 1962, when Leave It to Beaver was on ABC, Saturdays at 8:30:
"In 1962, the government regulated the price and route of every airplane, every freight train, every truck and every merchant ship in the United States. The government regulated the price of natural gas. It regulated the interest on every checking account and the commission on every purchase or sale of stock. Owning a gold bar was a serious crime that could be prosecuted under the Trading with the Enemy Act. The top rate of income tax was 91%.
It was illegal to own a telephone. Phones had to be rented from the giant government-regulated monopoly that controlled all telecommunications in the United States. All young men were subject to the military draft and could escape only if they entered a government-approved graduate course of study."
O'Reilly also refers to the rise of secularism as a move away from "traditional America," but even if that exists, what does Obama have to do with that? He's a fairly religious Christian man: when asked how old the Earth is, he gave a Biblical answer that didn't differ much from the answer scientists pilloried Marco Rubio for. By the way, in all my research of Leave It to Beaver for this comic (and I did a lot!), I saw no church-going, praying, or mentions of God. If they existed in the show, it was very infrequently.
I would argue that it is the vision of America's current conservatives -- the Paul Ryan budget plan's utter dismantling of the non-military Federal government, policies that encourage the already obscene income disparity, etc. -- that is the radical, "untraditional" view.
Remember: NORMAN ROCKWELL was a staunch New England liberal, and Andy Griffith actually supported Barack Obama in 2008.
So, what is it exactly that Miller, Goldberg and O'Reilly find so comfortingly "traditional" about the Leave It to Beaver world? Hmm, I guess that's the kind of truth that only gets blurted out as one is startled awake from a nightmare.