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GEORGE WILL: Blame the boomers

Letter by Rick L. Gudmunson, Lakebay on May 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm with 70 Comments »
May 12, 2011 12:20 pm

Solopsists. Narcissists. Sentientists (new word). George Will never seems to tire of putting all of society’s ills at the feet of those born between 1946 and 1964 (column, 5-12).

George W. Bush. John Boehner. Chris Christie. Haley Barbour. Jim DeMint. Tom Coburn. Narcissists all.

Charles Krauthammer. Kathleen Parker. Paul Gigot. Rush Limbaugh. Tony Blankley. Bill O’Reilly. Obvious solopsists.

Cal Ripken Jr. Nolan Ryan. George Brett. They probably think the world began when they became “more or less sentient.”

Mari Maseng Will. Mole?

I think it’s wise for Will to blame an entire class of Americans for everything that offends him. After all, we boomers are a large and diverse group, and there’s plenty of blame to go around.

(Gudmunson hails from the birth class of ’46.)

Leave a comment Comments → 70
  1. aislander says:

    I believe that EVERY human being is born solipsistic, narcissistic, and with a frame of reference limited to his own experience. That’s why wemust be civilized and educated. The civilizing means gaining the ability to put ourselves into the shoes of others and being provided with a moral framework. Education means being taught history. The problem with Boomers is that they were treated as though they were all the center of the universe precisely when our educational system was suffering from the effects of John Dewey’s reforms…

  2. Fibonacci says:

    “suffering from the effects of John Dewey’s reforms.
    Here is the wikapedia quote about his philosophy—what part makes us “suffer”?”

    “Dewey asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully formed public opinion, accomplished by effective communication among citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.”

  3. Fibonacci, this is where wikipedia can be problematic. Who made this entry?

  4. I am among the early boomers, and while I believe it is silly to blame a collective across the board, I will say that I think we kicked off a bunch of stuff as we entered adulthood that has come back to haunt us in recent years.

    Again, though I will not bowdlerize the 50’s, the whole hippie experiment (in which I happily and arrogantly participated) was the beginning of mass cynicism and lack of respect for authority. Boomers exhibited a lot of the “little learning” that can be dangerous (Alexander Pope)…and now everybody thinks he/she’s an expert on everything, while the Gen-Xers readily confess (in large numbers) that they don’t know much of anything about anything. And don’t care.

  5. aislander says:

    Fibonacci: Sounds like a formula for indoctrination, which is precisely what we got. The reliance on “experts,” rather than on critical thinking is a hallmark of fascism, by the way. As for Dewey’s redefinition of “democracy” as being more than voting rights (leaving aside our status as a republic), that falls right into the fascistic concept of a “national spirit” that can be channeled through a charismatic leader far more efficiently than mere elections are able to do…

  6. aislander says:

    Fascists were vehemently anti-communist because they were competing with the Reds for the same social territory. Stalin accused Trotsky of being a fascist, while pro-communist lefties in America made the same accusation of Eugene Debs, leader of the American Socialist Party. The fact is that fascism was a brand of socialism and definitely of the left. Please expound on the vast differences between Soviet communism and, say, Italian Fascism…

  7. ryasger says:

    Rick, right on! As one born right in the middle of the Boomers I’m sick and tired of being bashed. Not that I’m proud of my generation. I certainly wish our parents had had a lot fewer of us and that corporate America hadn’t fawned over us so much, but I didn’t make those decisions. Our Depression- and war-scarred parents certainly doted on us but not all of us wound up spoiled brats or went on to become Yuppies.

    All my life has been lived under the shadow and legacies of World War II.
    I grew up with the daily fear of being incinerated in a nuclear missile exchange with one of its victims, came of age during an unpopular war whose veterans were spat on and still suffer damage today, and landed in a time of massive technological and societal shifts led by our parents and grandparents. We adapted to all this just as our spawn are doing living in iPhones and FaceBook. No matter what I wanted to do in life – get an education, get a good job, buy a house, etc., I was always in fierce competition with millions of other boomers. Later on my social security tax was doubled by those who said there will be too many of us when our turn comes to retire. So I’ve not only had to pay for my parents’ retirement but my own as well. I didn’t disagree with the math on this but had little faith the money would make good on its end of the deal 30 years later. Sure enough, the government borrowed it all away and now wants to “privatize” what’s left!

    I grew up being told that if I work hard in school, save my money, and remain loyal to my employer, I’ll be rewarded in my old age with a comfortable retirement. I believed it and worked my butt off to make it happen, only to be told later that someone stole all the booty and the promisers left town. I’m not asking for sympathy – we live in a casino capitalism society. I placed conservative bets and still lost.

    But don’t expect a smile from me when you accuse me of stealing all the cookies for Gen X, Y, and beyond. I feel sorry for them but rather than bash each other, we need to take aim at the real criminals in this thing. We all know who they are.

  8. Ithappened2me2 says:

    Here, let me finish it for you in the mindset of sue1234. It is the white male……

  9. Sozo,
    You participated so long and hard you fried your brain and missed a decade.
    The 50’s were the era of the Beatniks.
    The 60’s were the era of the Hippies.

    Time to update your dictionary. Today Fascism is considered to be and ultra-conservative system.

    I am an original boomer – born 9 months after the first weekend following VJ Day.

    We boomers were just what Madison Avenue wanted; a large greedy, materialistic horde of consumers to buy all that stuff being made in America.

  10. aislander says:

    xring: Time to study a little history. How exactly is a statist system such as fascism akin to limited-government conservatism?

  11. nwcolorist says:

    One thing about fascism and communism – they both are brutal, dictatorial, authoritarian systems that will not tolerate personal freedom.

  12. ItalianSpring says:

    aislander- What a wonderful and self answering question. Let’s watch xring spin an answer that starts with a false premise……

  13. Fibonacci says:

    Fascist Germany (Hitler CHOSE the word SOCIALIST on purpose to lure attract socialists and communits) emphasized a triumverate of Government, big business, and the military. Sound a little like the Republican Party? ALL totalitarian governments share common aspects, but that does not make them all socialist. Fascists are anti-leftits, they are on the RIGHT. YOU read your history.

  14. Fibonacci says:

    Oh yes, do you really believe that the Republican Party is limited-government conservative? They are hardly limited government, they just want the government contol in different areas than liberals.

  15. aislander says:

    Fascists were CALLED rightists by the communists. But wasn’t everybody?

  16. aislander says:

    Uh…Fib: I didn’t say ANYthing about Republicans. I’m not one, so there is no ego involvement at all. Some Republicans are limited-government conservatives and I support them and am trying to move the entire party in that direction. If we’re successful (and it looks as though things are moving that way), I may someday call myself a Republican. So. What do you think the odds are that the Democrats will acknowledge any limits to governmental action? I’d call myself a Democrat if they got there first…

  17. bobcat1a says:

    The problem is not so much any generation; rather, it is those of whatever age who have to toe the “party” line, be it conservative or liberal. Anyone who demands unthinking adherence to a comprehensive agenda is dangerously monomaniacal and of questionable intelligence. Facts are not tethered to a political philosophy.

    “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
    John Adams, ‘Argument in Defense of the Boston Massacre soldiers.

  18. aislander says:

    There is principle, bobcat1, and there is the pragmatic abandonment of principle. Many evils have been committed in the name of pragmatism, but at least the trains run on time…

  19. islander and I_S,
    sorry to disappoint you both, but I need neither spin nor false premises to answer your question.

    fascism exalts the nation, and often race, above the individual and believes in a strong centralized government, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

    limited government conservatism believes government functions and powers should be prescribed, limited, and restricted by law.

    note: under LGC the government would not have the right to restrict or regulate abortion.

  20. Islander,
    And even more evils have been committed by mindless adherence to ‘principle.’

  21. aislander says:

    That is correct, xring, which is why Roe v Wade is a travesty and has never let the abortion question die. It is an overreach by the Federal government. Abortion is an issue that should be resolved through the democratic process, which is why it was legal in some states and not in others before Roe v Wade. The question was resolved legislatively in the UK, which is why it is no longer controversial there. The people, through their representatives, were able to speak.

    It isn’t JUST the nation that is exalted above the individual in fascist systems, xring: it is also the collective. Just read the writings of Mussolini and Hitler, as well as the Nazi party platform. Nothing conservative about them–at least not in an American sense.

    Do you think socialist governments need to be strong and centralized?

  22. aislander says:

    Nobody is calling for “mindless adherence to principle,” xring. And, if you think about it, isn’t it mindless to say that of ALL principles? It matters to which principles one is adhering…

  23. Islander,
    Roe v Wade did settle the issue – a woman right to chose to have an abortion is protected under the Constitution. The same ruling also affirmed a woman’s right to chose to not have an abortion.

    I have read the writings you mention, plus a lot more – history/political science was a major part of my college degree. Fascism rejects individualism in favor of the collective national society. Sort of like America’s belief in WASP supremacy or the old “Free, White, and 21″ slogan.

    Socialist governments need not be strong and centralized. However, as practiced they are general doctoral.

    The mindless adherence to any principle or group of principles, just like the lack of principles, leads to evil. And one of the most dangerous principles is religion, which often leads to the believe ‘MY GOD or death’.

  24. beerBoy says:

    aislander – just read the writings of contemporary American “conservatives”…..nothing conservative about them. The so-called “conservative” movement is more correctly understood as a radical Regressive party.

    p.s. John Dewey’s impact was early in the 20th century…you know…the “American Century” when we were truly Exceptional.

  25. harleyrider1 says:


    Whine, criticize, mock all that America has been. Yet you continue to live here, when you can live anywhere else in the world you believe is better, thanks to being an American. Freedom. It’s what you do with it – not what it does for you.

    America needs people to believe in this Country to “re-build” it. Anyone can tear it down. Especially if your allegiance consisted of just waking up here each day and not fighting in a uniform for it.

  26. aislander says:

    beerBoy: It takes time for reforms to “bite.” Baby boomers were in school when Dewey’s “improvements” to US education were taking hold. Your “regressive” is my return to first principles…

    So…xring…did you really think you were REFUTING my assertions?

  27. H_R,
    the R/T Party are the ones who want to destroy America: The Dems want to protect and save America as we know it.

  28. KARDNOS says:

    “falls right into the fascistic concept of a “national spirit” that can be channeled through a charismatic leader…..”

    Sounds like Ronald Reagan.

  29. LarryFine says:

    “Nobody is calling for “mindless adherence to principle” … algore is.

  30. sue1234 says:

    Ithappenedtome…. answer some questions for me.

    1. What peopoe of color or female contributed to writing our foundational papers as a country?

    2. What people of color or female contributed to the making of laws in our states and country prior to .. say 1965?

    3. Please name all the Presidents that were people of color or female prior to 2000?

    4. Please name the year black men got to vote. Please name the year women got to vote.

    The white man has always been in control and all the ills we have today are a direct result of laws and rules set up by white men. To think otherwise is not only stupid it smacks of racsim. White male privledge is alive in America. The only people who don’t seem to understand that are rightwing republican males. No surprise there since it isnt on Fox News.

  31. xring says: H_R the R/T Party are the ones who want to destroy America: The Dems want to protect and save America as we know it.

    Translation: The Dems want to protect and save America as they want to know and make it.

    Liberal Democrats don’t tolerate differences of opinions well. Neither do conservative Republicans. Both want the other side to shut up. Which leaves us in the middle to right the ship of state, which currently is adrift and in danger of floundering on the shoals of massive debt.

  32. Sue1234, feel free to get a sex change operation and join us. Dolt.

  33. camas – are you saying that testosterone reduces brain function?

  34. Sumner 4321 self-corners –
    “The white man has always been in control and all the ills we have today are a direct result of laws and rules set up by white men. To think otherwise is not only stupid it smacks of racsim (?)”

    Camas, Good one. How about a crimson or magenta Sue, orange perhaps?

    Sue discovers self-definition as a talking kettle…

  35. bobcat1a says:

    aislander, good to know you believe that government knows best and should go into the doctor’s office with women and tell them what to do with THEIR bodies. Good old conservative talking out of both sides of your mouth.

  36. beerBoy says: camas – are you saying that testosterone reduces brain function?

    Not mine. Why, does it affect your mental acuity? If so, maybe you should become beerGirl or to please Sue123456789, dark beerGirl. But before you go under the knife, you might want to consult with Chaz Bono about the pros and cons of that particular issue.

  37. Islander,
    There is no way that mere facts could ever change your right wing assertions.

    Besides you need an open mind and a willingness to form conclusions based on real world facts and data.

    Half of that massive debt is due to Bush’s tax cuts and his wild spending on two unnecessary wars.

  38. xring says: Camas, Half of that massive debt is due to Bush’s tax cuts and his wild spending on two unnecessary wars.

    That means that the other half is Obama’s. Imagine that, it took Bush 8 years what Obama did in two. Bush is a piker. He should have known that nobody can spend like a Democrat.

    Which two? Iraq is very true, but even the anointed one thought Afghanistan was okay. I’m okay with ending both. I’m more in favor of ending all three. Why stop with two?

  39. Camas,
    US debt was $5 trillion when Bush2 took office, $10+ trillion when he left; and Obama and the Dems are working on cutting the Debt, unlike the NOcons GOP whose budget adds another $9 trillion to the debt over the next decade.

    Our War in Afghanistan was against al-Qaeda not the Taliban. And we started losing the war when Bush2 changed the mission from destroying al-Qaeda to Occupation and Nation Building.

  40. aislander says:

    The Dems are cutting the debt HOW xring? By spending more? Oh yeah; that’s what Biden said…

    I partially agree with you on your latter point, though. We go in, kill ‘em, break their stuff and leave…

  41. aislander says:

    I’d change my mind, xring, based on facts–when you provide some. I can back up MY assertions from original sources all day long. YOU rely on secondary sources in an argumentum ad verecundiam.

    Speaking of facts, I have one correction to make to my assertion that Stalin accused socialist Eugene Debs of being a fascist. Stalin actually accused socialist leader Norman Thomas. Sorry…

  42. Aslander,
    You can misquote original sources all day long and that won’t change the facts that:
    Fascism is an ultra right wing belief.
    The GOP beliefs are closer to Fascism that the Democratic beliefs are.
    The Tea Party (not the GOP) comes closer to ‘limited government conservatism’.

    “The true mark of intelligence is the ability to explain you position and to present your arguments in plain simple everyday English.”

    Given the state we’re in, maybe it’s time to let non-white, non-Christian females take charge.

  43. aislander says:

    xring: You just made several assertions, none of which you were prepared to support. I’ll restate my question: If small-government conservatism is “right wing,” how is that related to an all-powerful state required for fascism? Communism requires a large, all-powerful government; fascism requires a large all-powerful government; other socialisms require large all-powerful governments. We conservatives wish to reduce the power and scope of government and give more power and autonomy to individuals. How in xring world are these things the same?

  44. aislander says:

    By the way, xring, if you accuse me of “misquoting” original sources you damn well better be able to back that up. Otherwise, go peddle your papers…

  45. aislander says:

    Again, xring, I ask you to enumerate the vast differences between Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany…

  46. beerBoy says:

    “I can back up MY assertions from original sources all day long.”

    Aislander figured out how to use endnotes from Jonah Goldberg’s delusional tome while echoing Goldberg’s bizarre conclusions…..

  47. Islander,
    Both Hitler and Stalin, and there governments were brutal repressive dictatorships. The basic differences were in their basic social/political/economic belief systems.

    Communism thinks global and stands for state OWNERSHIP of everything.

    -The only need for the Communist State was to defend and spread Communism and would become unnecessary once World Communism was achieved.

    Fascism thinks only at the national level and believes in state control of everything and exalts citizenship in terms of race, ethnicity, or religion.

    Limited or Small Government Conservatism is a basic principle of the older conservative movement (IMO) that ended with Reagan, and harkens back to the simpler times of our Founding Fathers.

    Today the Tea and Libertarian Parties are the strongest supporters of limited government. The mainstream GOP pays lip service to limited government but in many areas think and acts fascist.

  48. aislander says:

    So…although Hitler and Stalin did basically the same things, the difference was the alleged rationale for what they did? And this is important because…? You do know that Hitler railed against corporate greed, don’t you? So NOW the difference is…what? That STALIN called him a rightist? That one was an internationalist and the other a nationalist? As for state ownership, what is the difference between actual ownership and being able to dictate absolutely everything the business does, as well as appropriating a large chunk of the profit for state purposes? You DO know, don’t you xring, that Hitler and Mussolini co-opted business rather than business’s co-opting those states:

    You are basically correct in your latter points. We conservatives believe, though, that the best way to again achieve limited government is through moving the Republicans in that direction. Contrary, though, to your assertion, there is still a large number of Republicans, in office and out, who want what we want. A large number of corporatists exist in BOTH parties, which makes beerBoy somewhat correct…

  49. aislander says:

    When I posted that beerBoy was somewhat correct, I didn’t see beerBoy’s post above. He certainly ISN’T correct in THAT conclusion. But that raises an interesting question: if the citations in “Liberal Fascism” are accurate (and beerBoy hasn’t shown that they are not), how is that book “delusional?” Please enlighten, bB…

  50. I have cited writers who were cited by Goldberg who claim that Goldberg’s conclusions based upon the citations demonstrate that he didn’t understand the source material – hence “delusional”.

  51. Accurate citations means that you understand MLA formatting, not that you understand the material cited.

  52. aislander says:

    If the accurately cited original material supports a point I happen to be making, how am I not understanding the material? Would it be mere coincidence that the citation is appropriate to the point?

  53. Islander,
    The rationale and difference between the systems are less important than the similarities. The lesion is that the more Ultra left you get the closer you get to the Ultra right.

    Hitler railed against corporate greed under capitalism.
    Centralized control works for big corporations but no so well for the local mon&pop type businesses. Communism bands all private business while Fascism allows it.

    H & M co-opted big businesses, but today it is big businesses that has co-opted the GOP and the Tea Party.

  54. aislander says:

    Here’s how the Founders saw it, xring: Anarchy on the right; total governmental control of every aspect of life on the left. Makes more sense than some convoluted idea that the more the extremes diverge, the more similar they become. Doesn’t it?

  55. Islander,
    Now and in 17776: Anarchy is the absence of all rules and authority, and is the polar opponent of total government control

  56. aislander says:

    That is exactly what I am saying xring. Total governmental control is on the left; total absence of government is on the right. The Founders were seeking that golden point on the continuum at which the least government necessary was to be found. Just don’t get hung up on the labels “left” and “right,” and you will see that their vision makes sense. After all, the only REAL difference between a Hitler and a Stalin is the rationalization behind the oppression…

  57. aislander says:

    Yeah, Polago; you’ve pulled that out of your…er…ideology before. Just read my previous post and refute it if you can. As I said, the Founders’ idea of an ideological spectrum is both simpler and more logical (it places governments on the continuum based on their behavior rather than their propaganda) than the convoluted models trumped up by those who would prefer their OWN ideology be viewed in the best possible light…

  58. aislander says:

    When I said the Founders put total government control on the left and anarchy on the right, it should be obvious that neither of those extremes is desirable, and that the positions are arbitrary.

  59. I have brought this to your attention before, if that’s what you mean.

    This is from a Conservative website.

  60. aislander says:

    Polago: Please address a question directly. What is wrong with assessing governments by their behavior? Hitler and Stalin BEHAVED very similarly, so why weren’t their governments in virtually the same place on the ideological scale?

  61. You say that they behaved similarly, but they were actually two very distinctly different types of oppressors.

  62. aislander says:

    Different how? If you could explain that, there may be a basis for discussion. They both murdered millions of people. They both invaded their neighbors. They both had a sinister secret police. They both controlled the everyday lives of their people. They both were hostile to conventional religion. They both controlled (in somewhat different ways) the means of production. They were both nationalistic (remember Stalin’s call to fight for the Motherland). What’s the vast difference?

  63. Their purposes were different. Hitler wanted to control the world and dictate who was included and who wasn’t. Less government so he could dictate.
    Stalin took Marx’s Utopian philosophy and bastardized it through oppression. He didn’t get that Marx’s brand of socialization was supposed to include everyone. He dis-included those who objected.

    Both extremes of the spectrum.

    Their similarity was that they wanted to dictate, be the deciders.

  64. aislander says:

    So…it was all about intentions. Not at ALL persuasive, Polago. And you say Hitler wanted LESS government? Wow…

  65. aislander says:

    If you wish to be a dictator, you need MORE of an apparatus, not less. With less government, people are free to make their own decisions, anathema to a dictator…

  66. Like Homeland Security.

    Total government control is on both the far left (Communist Russia) and on the RIGHT (Czarist Russia).

    Anarchy has several shades of meaning but is most often used to describe the results of a collapsed or failed state (i.e. Somalia).

    Utopia describes a society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government.

    Our Founding Fathers say conservatism as a all powerful central government and anarchy as a lack of government.

  67. aislander says:

    xring: I feel for you. All-powerful government: one extreme. No government: the other extreme. Just forget the labels. It’s so much simpler…

    As for what you are saying the Founders said about conservatism: where do you get this stuff?

  68. An all powerful government being tyrannical, and no government being anarchic, the balance between the two being democracy.

  69. Utopianism is a logical extension of the ‘small limited government’.

    Rather than trying to see political ideas as linear, think of them as a web or piper diagram.

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