Ed Driscoll

Nostalgic Fail

During the Cold War standoff between the initial flashpoint of of L’affaire Gates and last Thursday’s healing presidential kegger, I wrote:

As Michael Barone has noted on a couple of occasions, there’s a definite sense of nostalgia amongst the left these days. Roger L. Simon focuses on one element of that phenomenon,  “Gates and Obama’s nostalgia for racism.” Roger adds that “as a sixties civil rights worker, I can empathize with the nostalgia. In those days it was very easy to tell right from wrong and feel good about your actions. These days it’s a lot more complicated.”

Kathy Shaidle highlights the “progressive” obsession with nostalgia and offers a logical explanation:

During the tv panels I used to do, inevitably Sid Ryan or some other dissipated old lefty would smirk and say, “Why do all you people want to go back to the 1950s?”

“You mean to the time before AIDS and rampant divorce and assassinations and epidemic drug use and…?” I took to replying.

But it’s really progressives who live in the past.

Be it the labor conditions of a century ago, or “life” in Dickensian England, or those “evil” 1950s, or a 1998 Law & Order episode about some “Timothy McVeigh” type — progressives see almost everything through the lens of the past, often a semi-fictional one, helpfully distorted by Hollywood and Howard Zinn.

We’ve seen it again with the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Victor Davis Hanson makes the point well, writing about “this well-connected, well-paid Harvard resident apparently wants us to believe that he is living under something like the United States of many decades ago.”

But why? What causes this particularly persistent mental tick?

The answer is simple: when your movement’s best days are behind it, when you could still excuse your stupidity and cruelty by claiming you had no idea your “brilliant” solutions to the world’s problems would actually make the world worse… those seem like the good old days indeed.

And watch for it on the campaign trail, of course. Or as Jim Geraghty writes, “Next Up, Attack Ads Against Herbert Hoover.”