YEARNING FOR A GOLDEN AGE….Greg Beato has a great paragraph today on people who pine away for the past:
It’s always easy to pick the best from the past (i.e., Casablanca) and compare it with the mediocre of the present, then conclude that they just don’t make them like that anymore. But anyone who bothers to examine the past for five minutes invariably discovers that the past was exactly like the present: the lousy and the mediocre ruled, and good stuff was rare. But the good stuff survives and most of the lousy and mediocre stuff disappears, and people remember golden ages that never were. The same dynamic applies to newspaper columnists, of course: Damon Runyon and Walter Lippmann and H.L. Mencken are the names we remember, but it was the Daniel Henningers of the day who filled up most of the pages.
The same is true of politics: George W. Bush is no FDR, but neither was Calvin Coolidge. We should neither glorify nor dismiss the past, but should try to view it through the eyes of those who actually lived through it, warts and all. Only then can we actually learn anything from it.