Victor Davis Hanson: The baby boomers’ perpetual adolescence is still hurting America

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is a pattern in all these dilemmas. And it is not conservative-versus-liberal politics, but generational chaos. Those who came of age in the 1960s now hold the reins of power and influence — and we are starting to see why their values have worried almost everyone for nearly a half-century.

History has seen something like them before in the “blame them” years of Demosthenes’ Athens, the self-indulgence of Julio-Claudian Rome, the “after me, the deluge” generation of late 18th-century France, the Gilded Age, and the Roaring Twenties.

What are the baby boomers’ collective traits? Like all perpetual adolescents who suffer arrested development, we always want things both ways: Don’t drill or explore for more energy, but nevertheless demand ever more fuel from other suppliers.

There are never bad and worse choices, but only a Never Never Land of good and even-better alternatives. Housing not only has to stay affordable for buyers, but also must appreciate in value to give instant equity to those who have just become owners.

When things don’t go well, we always blame someone else. Why drill off Santa Barbara or Alaska when we can sue those terrible Saudis for not putting more oil platforms in their Persian Gulf?

And why accept that the conduct of all wars is flawed and victory goes usually to those who persevere in making the needed adjustments when we can just keep pointing fingers at the official who disbanded the Iraqi army or sent too few troops after the invasion?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-Watch* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

Posted May 30, 2008 at 5:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Ken Peck wrote:

Doesn’t O’Neill have better things to do than to discipline priests of Southeast Asia and Rio Grande?

Maybe he could raise some more money for his law suits by selling a few more church buildings so they can be come night clubs.

May 30, 6:09 pm | [comment link]
2. ElaineF. wrote:

As usual, VDH is incisive, articulate and spot on!

A Baby Boomer

May 30, 10:13 pm | [comment link]
3. Jeffersonian wrote:

And we can put it all on our American Express, then pay that off with the Visa!

Of course there are exceptions aplenty, but VDH is right about the drift of the Boomers as a whole.

May 30, 10:43 pm | [comment link]
4. paxetbonum wrote:

Yep there’s a good bit of blame that happens with the baby boom generation. If in doubt, just read the comments at T19. Its always them, never us.

May 30, 11:00 pm | [comment link]
5. uffda51 wrote:

Was it only the boomers who elected (sorry, appointed) oil gazillionaires to the White House? Was it the boomers who declared war on a noun? Which of two dozen or so despotic world rulers should we take on next? Should we actually think about how we might pay for the next war, while not raising taxes? There are two groups of people in the world - those that divide the people of the world into two groups, and those that don’t. VDH has given us twaddle and nonsense.

May 30, 11:25 pm | [comment link]
6. Ed the Roman wrote:

No, but it’s the boomers who seem to think that no war needs to be fought other than World War II.

May 31, 12:07 am | [comment link]
7. Clueless wrote:

The reason boomers declared war on a noun is because we don’t understand verbs either.

“It depends on the meaning of the word ‘is’.”

Come to think of it Hamlet was probably a Boomer too.  No wonder he was fixated on “To be.”

May 31, 1:11 am | [comment link]
8. Katherine wrote:

Oil gazillionaires?  And nations are nouns, too, but putting that aside, news reports point out that al Qaeda is near total defeat in Iraq, and is losing in the war of ideas in the Muslim world.  We are picking off their leadership one by one with Predators in northwest Pakistan.  Suicide worshippers in Gaza and the West Bank remain a problem, but the rest of the Arab world is sick of them.  If we’re lucky, the current Iranian government will collapse before things go too far; it’s not clear as yet whether action there will be necessary.  One can hope not.

May 31, 3:44 am | [comment link]
9. Ken Peck wrote:

And apparently the current concern of American intelligence is that if our puppet dictator in Pakistan steps down, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal will fall into the hands of al Qaeda.

May 31, 7:20 am | [comment link]
10. saj wrote:

I was born in 1947—- I “resemble” Hanson’s remarks—hum.. does that mean I am acting out of “boomer” character?

May 31, 8:40 am | [comment link]
11. DonGander wrote:

Mr. Hanson’s examples are good illustrations of Existential thought. As the culture is steeped in Existentialism it is only logical that such errant thought occurs.

It seems that we can always find our desired outcomes somewhere between the poles of “yes” and “no”. Somewhere, in that profound Existential middle ground is just the idea that we want.

This generation is just too good to be required to suffer under anything resembling truth.


May 31, 9:43 am | [comment link]
12. Larry Morse wrote:

At the heart of the Boomers’ potential for damage, is their substitution of self indulgence for self discipline. The consequence of this substitution is our present culture of narcissism and absence-of-standards. In an interesting bit of social convergences, the growth of narcissism and its cognate exhibitionism has been The Boomers parallel attraction to homosexuality, which has always been marked by these characteristics. They have also given us multiculturalism and diversity and tolerance, a set of mantras which, when carried into the real world, have lead to the erosion of both individual and national identity. I have heard the Boomers’ dismiss all these accusations, but the evidence is in fact overwhelming.

  To be sure, my generation helped prepare for the Boomers,  so we must share the guilt, but the world of “sex,drugs ‘n rocknroll” is their creation, and we will suffer from the damage this culture has done for a long time. Nor will the damage be healed until we are able to reinstall a culture marked by self-discipline.  LM

May 31, 9:58 am | [comment link]
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