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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

11.20.2007

The Wasted Generation

Bill Kristol says what I've long thought regarding the overrated, selfish, and generally useless Baby Boomer generation.

The most prominent of the boomers spent their youth scorning those of their compatriots who fought communism, while moralizing and posturing at no cost to themselves. They went on to enjoy the benefits of their parents' labors, sacrificed little, and produced nothing particularly notable. But the boomers were unparalleled when it came to self-glorification, a talent they began developing as teenagers and have continued to improve up to this day. They were also good at bamboozling their parents, and members of the "silent generation" like Tom Brokaw, to be overly deferential to them--even to the point of giving them credit for things they didn't do.

Now the first boomers are applying for Social Security. Their time is passing--without eliciting any discernible consternation among their successors. It's not that every last one is unworthy. But for each David Petraeus or Ray Odierno (two very impressive members), there are countless posturers and blowhards who have received wildly disproportionate attention. We've had two boomer presidents now, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. They followed eight presidents whose lives were more or less defined by the experience of World War II, or the Cold War: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush. (Carter is the exception that proves the rule--a bit young to be defined by World War II, he turned out to be a kind of baby boomer avant la lettre.) With all due respect to Clinton's intelligence and Bush's determination--it's hard to make the case that boomer presidents were an improvement. (And some of the most impressive characters in the Clinton and Bush administrations--Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Vice President Dick Cheney, to name two--weren't boomers.)

The boomer urge for self-glorification is still going strong. In its latest issue, Newsweek celebrates "1968: The Year That Made Us Who We Are." Recently Hillary Clinton spoke at Wellesley reliving the glory days of her "experiment in human living" 1969 commencement speech. For her reprise, she received mostly fawning coverage, in accord with the how-wonderful-our-kids-are coverage her original remarks received four decades ago. But rereading that fatuous oration today makes one think that the romance of the '60s must surely fade.


It is a supreme irony that the Greatest Generation, known for self-sacrifice and patriotism, produced so many rotten, grasping, whining, worthless perpetual adolescents.

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