Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Clubbies and Freaks

Interesting analysis (and comments) at Shrinkwrapped concerning Boomer-generation politicians:
To use a 1950s archaic term, the Freaks considered the Clubbies to be "squares" and the Clubbies considered the Freaks to be losers and dope fiends. In reality, the Clubbies, while affecting a more Preppy look were, in reality, no more mature than the Freaks.

Tom Barnett, in a post discussing a David Brooks essay in the Times regarding the Libby pardon, makes some excellent points:

The best parts are when he compares the stunning hypocrisy of Left and Right across the Monica and Libby cases.

Bottom line: Boomers simply suck as politicians. Born of Watergate and Vietnam, they replay these shows over and over again to no useful leadership outcomes. I want them off-stage so bad it hurts.

Tom Barnett is a bit too sanguine about Hillary Clinton for my taste but I think his arguments for Rudy Giuliani resonate with my sense of the Mayor. However, his point that Boomers make terrible politicians strikes home.

Boomers make terrible politicians due to a combination of factors, exemplified by our last two Presidents, one a Freak and one a Clubbie, both of questionable maturity for extended portions of their adult life.

Being a good politician requires having a core set of idealistic values and the requisite cynicism to tolerate bending one's idealism to mesh with reality as closely as possible. Both Clinton and Bush came to adulthood with no obvious set of core ideals. Clinton's Presidency was marked by no issues momentous enough to elicit or test his core. As if in continuation of the Freaks quest for hedonic pleasures, Clinton governed as if his primary concern was being adored by his subjects, whether foreign dignitaries or White House interns.

Until 9/11, Bush gave every indication of running the country as an extended Frat party, with inane nicknames and back slapping japes.

Of note, neither man had ever really been tested in any meaningful way. Rather than maturing into adulthood, they were able to sustain an extended adolescent where events rarely had serious consequences; in truth, neither man (indeed a fair portion of my cohort) never matured because we never had to mature. Life for a post-war baby boomer was always easy. It is true that we grew up with the specter of nuclear annihilation looming over our heads, but that was no incentive to grow up; it was more of an incentive to party and not worry overly much about the morrow, which might not arrive in any event.
Happily, I am a member of Gen X.


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