November 14, 2013
time. Turn your televisions off. Now. And don’t turn them back on until November
23rd. By then, crazed, schmaltzy, vacuous JFK nostalgia, currently enveloping
the nation, will have dissipated.
the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the 35th president started two
weeks early, and will culminate on the 22nd, with NBC’s
“two-hour documentary ‘Where Were You: The Day JFK Died,’ reported by Tom
commemoration of a presidency tragically extinguished by a crackpot’s bullet?
Nah. It’s just another opportunity for Baby Boomer navel-gazing.
Watergate, the McGovern
campaign, the first Earth Day, Woodstock, Tranquility Base, Vietnam,
the Summer of Love, the
struggle against Jim Crow,
the Beatles on Sullivan. It’s the
murder of John F. Kennedy that resonates deepest for Boomers, the 78-million-strong
cohort born between the end of World War II and the early 1960s.
killing is the fount of Boomers’ victimization saga. Losing such a “visionary”
leader, their dubious narrative holds, was the first of many traumas. In the
decade and a half to come, they would realize that America had too many sexual
“hang-ups,” capitalism was incompatible with environmental protection, and the
have-nots had not due to inadequate “public investments” -- i.e., expensive programs
designed by Ivy League grads. While male Boomers were shipped off to die for
nothing in a far-off jungle, their distaff counterparts began to understand the
boring and demeaning nature of being a “stay-at-home mom.” Careers were
preferable to a life sentence in the suburbs. Accordingly, marriages had to
eschew gender roles. And when a union faltered, it was better for everyone, including
the kids, to divorce.
The heart gets
what the heart wants. No matter who gets hurt.
As the ‘70s
gave way to the ‘80s, the U.S.
became a full-bore Boomer Nation. It still is. Traditional notions about
connubiality and child-rearing are
passé. One of the vilest things that can be said about someone is that he
is “judgmental.” NIMBYism and weather paranoia,
fueled by junk science, are pervasive. There is no social or economic problem
that lobbyists cannot leverage for greater taxpayer-financed outlays.
America’s had Boomer presidents for 20 years, and
the national debt
has jumped from an inflation-adjusted $6.8 trillion to $17.1 trillion.
(Unfunded liabilities are astronomically higher.) Over 40 percent of births are
illegitimate. Welfarism is rampant, as the able-bodied choose subsidies over
work. Popular culture celebrates ignorance, vulgarity, and solipsism.
generation ever? The case is strong. After all, the Baby Boom’s responsible for
Bill Kristol, Cass Sunstein, Peggy Noonan, Oliver Stone, Bill O’Reilly, Anna
Quindlen, Donald Trump, Stephen King, Karl Rove, Sonia Sotomayor, Sean Hannity,
Bill Maher, John Podhoretz, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Dick Morris, Paul Krugman, Victor
Davis Hanson, Bob Costas, and Ann Coulter.
the nation with appalling public policies and a legion of third-rate thinkers,
but don’t overlook its cost to individuals. Earlier this year, Bloomberg
covered the results of a study that found that Boomers “have more chronic
illness and disability than their parents, as their sedentary habits and
expanding girth offset the modern medicine that enables them to live longer.” Boomers,
Richard A. Friedman, M.D., “are far more likely to use illicit drugs than
previous generations.” The group’s suicide rate, The
Washington Post reported in June,
“shot up precipitously between 1999 and 2010.”
In 1967, Time
assured its readers that “the generation now in command can take solace from
its offspring’s determination to do better.” Those 25 and under, the magazine concluded,
would “infuse the future with a new sense of morality, a transcendent and
contemporary ethic that could infinitely enrich the ‘empty society.’”
peaked early -- protesting conscription and the slaughter in Indochina,
for example, and raising awareness that pollution was a genuine problem. Since
then, their record has been nothing short of disastrous.
“I loathe my
generation,” Boomer Joe Queenan growled in 2001. “We became culturally frozen
in time at a very early age and continue to think of ourselves as trailblazers.
It’s completely pathetic.”
later, columnist Nicholas D. Kristof predicted that Boomers “won’t be
remembered as the ‘Greatest Generation.’ Rather, we’ll be scorned as the
producing more rhapsodies for, as Stone’s comically earnest JFK has Jim
Garrison quote Tennyson, “your dying king,” Boomers should look ahead. They
still posses considerable resources in politics, media, and academia. A mea culpa, combined with an offer of
assistance to the generations charged with cleaning up the Republic’s many
messes, would help rehabilitate Boomers’ well-deserved reputation for narcissism.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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