Tuesday, June 07, 2011

American "exceptionalism"?

Well, Rick Santorum, everybody's favorite frothy mixture, came out a few days ago to explain how "America was a great country before 1965."

Now, in context, he chose 1965 because that was the year that Medicare and Medicaid were put in place. Funny how that was the same year that America passed the Voting Rights Act of (weird how that works) 1965, and Martin Luther King's march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.

Yes, children, Sesame Street is brought to you today by the word "dog-whistle."

I suppose I could also bring up the Fair Housing Act of 1968, but flogging that horse won't make it run again, will it?

I mean, it's an easy speech to fisk, full of lies and misquotes, but, you know, on second thought, there's a whole line of horses lying there, and maybe one will be motivated to stagger a few steps.

Until 1965 and Griswold v. Connecticut, there were still parts of America where it was illegal for married couples to use contraceptives (of course, Frothy probably thinks that was a sign of America's decline).

Until 1963, it was still legal to pay women less than men for doing the same job (as opposed to sneaking it in, like they do now).

In 1964, the US passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, and in 1965, we began air raids in North Vietnam and Communist-controlled parts of the South; on March 8, the first American combat troops arrived in country (I think my father began his first tour there two years later).

Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, but I have no evidence that Santorum would admit to supporting it.

Leslie Ann Warren made her TV debut in Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella in 1965 (as if that wasn't bad enough, it cleared the way for her to co-star in the Christopher Atkins disco vehicle A Night in Heaven almost 2 decades later, and that is unforgiveable).

At the Newport Folk Festival in July 1965, Bob Dylan went electric, which many saw as the death of folk music (others accept that it had already died a horrible death three years earlier when Peter, Paul and Mary recorded Lemon Tree).

And Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 in October, which prevented the US from using racial quotas to determine immigration policy; maybe that was what whipped Santorum into a froth.

In general, I'm having a hard time seeing what was so wonderful about America before 1965. Unless you were a white male.

Like Rick Santorum.


K. Syrah said...

I don't like 1965.

I look like crap in hoop skirts and pearls.

That and inter-racial marriage was illegal in many states.

Oh, and I don't think women were allowed into Military Intelligence yet either...

Come to think of it, I would have been a smack-addicted housewife, mistaken for being Japanese or some kind of "enemy" to the US. Damn. 1965 sucks.

Though, income tax for people over $150k was about 90% or higher... which I think was good.

Nameless Cynic said...

Hoop skirts? Maybe for the Debutante Ball, or some post-Confederate state's garden party...

There were plenty of other ugly clothing choices to choose from, though, so don't worry about it. (And my mother continued to wear them through the 70s... oy...)

Don't know when women were allowed into MI, either. According to the official story, during the Korean War, "WACs assigned to Europe worked mainly as cryptographers; supply, intelligence, and communication specialists; and hospital technicians."

Then again, I'm not clear whether WACs were given full-fledged MI jobs, or a patriarchal pat on the head and used as glorified secretaries.

K. said...

Santorum is right: A recent poll of the millions of Americans who have received Medicare since 1965 reported that 95% of them would in retrospect trade health security in old age just to have their country back. The same poll also reported that 96% of Republicans now regard Bill Clinton as "an even greater president than Ronald Reagan."

Nameless Cynic said...

Source? 'Cause I saw that the majority of older Americans oppose the Ryan Budget, which would cut Medicare.