One of the commentators on Fox this morning raised this question: Why is it that when Ann Romney owns, rides, trains, and is otherwise involved with horses, it’s decried as “elitist”, and evidence that she is so “ultra-rich” that she is “out of touch”, but when Jackie Kennedy rode, trained, and was otherwise involved with horses, it was wonderful, admirable, and glamorous, part of her role as the queen of “Camelot”? The commentator went on to discuss Mrs. Romney’s $990 t-shirt versus Mrs. Obama’s $6800 jacket, and urged the left… especially the women of the left… to “play fair.”
Like that’s going to happen.
I did like the Anne/Jackie comparison, though, and so I created the graphic which accompanies this dispatch, which I posted on Facebook along with the above question. There was a flurry of quick “likes” and some “atta-girl” comments. Then I was (gently) taken to task by a friend of mine who chided me for buying into a silly issue created by the media when nobody really cares who rides horses and there are much more important concerns. My friend is correct, of course. It is a silly issue and it’s a distraction.
My parents were married in 1955. I was born in 1960. I was not old enough to really understand, until much later, what the Kennedy administration – “Camelot” – symbolized for my parents – the son of working-class folk from the tobacco region of North Carolina and the daughter of farmers who had barely managed to scratch out an existence in west central Alabama during the Depression. Both of them were in the first generation of their respective families to go to college. I didn’t understand the hopes and dreams pressed between the pages of all those Life and Look magazines that my mom carefully preserved…the ones with pictures from the Kennedy White House. But I have heard my mom talk, in subsequent years… with a catch in her voice betraying tears just below the surface, even decades later… about how it felt to be “just starting out” during that time.
Folks didn’t hate the Kennedys because they were wealthy and glamorous. They by-God admired them. Young women of that time, of all classes and races, wanted to emulate Jackie. They believed in their heart of hearts that it was possible for them to be just as beautiful, gracious, and glamorous as she was, and carefully studied her to find out how. Young marrieds like my parents – indeed, everyone in the U.S. – believed that they could be, if not quite as successful as the Kennedys, at least successful beyond anything they’d known before. Why? Because they lived in America, where all things were possible.
JFK, for all of his personal failings, was a patriot. He understood American exceptionalism and the limitless opportunities presented by this country (“We choose to go to the moon!”) and he also understood duty and the obligation to preserve that which is exceptional about America for others (“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”). He inspired a generation to believe as he did. It would be another 25 years before Timbuk 3 would sing “The future’s so bright, I’ve got to wear shades”, but I think that must have been how my parents felt back then.
Somewhere along the line, we’ve lost the idea that success is something that should be admired and worked toward. It’s been replaced by this class envy meme that is embodied in the current conversation about Ann Romney’s horses. It’s a part of a deliberate plan to “fundamentally transform” the U.S. Already, far too many Americans are not asking what they can do for their country. They ask…nay, they expect…. their country to “do” for them….with other people’s money, no less. Puppet-like, they vote accordingly. Of course, as Mr. Bushmills has pointed out on more than one occasion, the goal of their statist puppet-masters bears no resemblance to the American ideals of equal “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all. The goal of the puppet-masters is only to ensure that they, the puppet-masters, are in the ruling class when the dust settles. The puppets have no idea yet that there won’t be a Camelot for them.
But they are already being trained to ignore the $6800 jackets. We are living in dangerous times.
So I say we keep talking about Ann’s horses and Jackie’s horses. Not that I give a damn who rides horses. And not because whining about “fairness” and the “double standard” is productive. It’s not. But an understanding of the difference between the view from 1961 and the view from 2012 – and who and what is creating that difference – is vital to the work we are doing here.