Back in the halcyon days of yore, when no organization was too big to fail and the Democratic Party had not yet been hijacked by the hard-core left, Ricky loved Lucy, Ozzie loved Harriet, the Dodgers were firmly planted in Flatbush, genial, bald-headed old Ike was president, and–except for the possibility of nuclear annihilation–all was right with the world.
Fifties’ kids like us grew up surrounded by heroes who were generally too busy earning a living to speak to us about what they’d accomplished in the war, so we turned to the likes of Superman, Batman, Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, the Lone Ranger, and any of John Wayne’s onscreen personas. These were the standard bearers for Truth, Justice, and the American Way in the days of my youth. But my favorite icon by far was that paragon of up-by-your-bootstraps capitalism, the wise old gajillionaire skinflint Scrooge McDuck.
Scrooge, as imagined by the great Carl Barks, was an anthropomorphic immigrant water fowl who personified the entrepreneurial spirit of the old timers who had carved America from a howling wilderness. He was an opportunistic adventurer who had made his bundle by being “tougher than the toughies” and “sharper than the sharpies”, and he had made it “on the square”. He still had the first dime he’d ever earned (Old Number One), and he grimly protected his overflowing money bin from robbers and swindlers and natural disasters while dispensing hard-won wisdom to Nephew Donald and the three Junior Woodchucks, Huey, Dewey and Louie. Despite being the richest duck in the known universe (he’d won contests to prove it), Scrooge observed that “no man was poor who could do what he liked to do once in a while”, and what the old coot liked best was to dive into his mountains of coins, roll around in them, then toss them in the air and let them hit him on the head. In the real world, of course, he’d have long since been plucked naked by the I.R.S. (the Federal version of the Beagle Boys), his beloved fortune gleefully redistributed to people who’d never earned a cent of it, and the only thing he’d be diving into would be a Chapter 11 filing.
Although I was admittedly always closer in temperament to the profligate Donald than his pecunious uncle, the old duck’s core values of self-reliance, thrift, and industry provided a seed of common sense conservatism that would mature over the years until I eventually became a sworn enemy of Progressivism in all its sickly shades of pink, and a proud member of what the hysterical distaff Clinton once called the “vast right-wing conspiracy”.
And it all started with Uncle $crooge.