:::UPDATE:::: Bob Owens is getting fed up with the media’s breathless-seeming anticipation of the martyrdom of Osama::: END UPDATE:::
The worst thing about the Baby Boom generation – besides their delusional belief that everything that came before them needed changing because it was all wrong or lacking in sufficient meaning, is that they keep wanting to re-create those “seminal” moments of their adolescence and young adulthood. That’s why in the late 80′s our entertainment was stuck on “The Wonder Years,” “Thirtysomething” and “The Big Chill,” and it’s why the war in Iraq was never going to be narrated as anything but “The Vietnam Quagmire.”
The assassinations of the 1960′s could arguably be called the signal events of the age. The murders of JFK, RKF and Martin Luther King were public events of great drama, lasting psychological impact and “shared” experience, which brought out the best and worst in people, sometimes at nearly identical moments. In the past few years it almost seems like some people of bad will would not be unhappy to see a dramatic, destructive assassination happen again, for reasons I don’t pretend to understand.
Think I’m wrong? Hello, George W. Bush was only a candidate for president – just a candidate – when the “snipers wanted” notices were flashing under his picture on a late-night talk show, and the assassination chic continued apace, reaching its nadir with a tv-movie dramatization of the seemingly-wished for assassination of Dubya.
Now, after Barack Obama’s tremendous surge, the ugly assassination theme has quickly resurfaced, although this time it’s being expressed as concern over the candidate’s safety rather than as active wishing for his demise, which is at least an improvement, but this fixation on assassination is still interesting. In Obama’s case, the issue is being raised by a writer at The Huffington Post who – for reasons I cannot discern – seems to think Halliburton or Blackwater or someone connected somehow with the Bush White House will try to kill Obama. I can’t figure out the reasoning, but to people for whom every evil in the world begins and ends with George W. Bush, on whom all bad things must be blamed, I guess it makes some sort of sense.
I don’t know if some folks have yet figured out that George W. Bush is not running for president in ’08, but eventually they’re going to find themselves deprived of their Hate Doll. Where they’ll put all that energy when he is off the world stage is anyone’s guess. It will have to go somewhere. Folks on the right who have been feeding on Hillary Hate will have the same problem, btw, if she loses. Hate – like love – is a force. When the object of your hate is no longer available it must go somewhere. If it does not go outward, it will go inward. But that’s food for another post.
A second writer wonders if Bill Clinton, fretting about his wife’s dwindling support, made a subliminal suggestion that Obama should be done in, based on this bit of Clintonian babble:
“Nobody would be happier to see all this go away than us. But you can’t ask somebody who is at a breathtaking disadvantage in the information coming to the voters to ignore that disadvantage and basically agree to put bullets in their brains,” [Bill Clinton] said.”
Allow me to say, I think the writer is off-track, here. I am certain Clinton did not mean that Obama should be assassinated. I think what me meant to say was: “…people who vote using only the information provided by a biased media are essentially putting bullets to their own brains.” I think that’s what he meant. The truth is, Bill Clinton – vaunted as a great speaker – is, on paper, a clumsy speaker who says almost nothing memorable, as indicated by the dearth of any substantial words by the 42nd president in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. His meaning is often fuzzy, possibly because of his habit of trying to have every word every way at all times.
I find two things ironic:
1) Bill Clinton is worrying about people voting only on the information provided by the same media that has been happy to help him and his wife for 15 years and has filtered his successor into near-invisibility.
2) Both of these “assassination” fears originated – as did all of the Bush-assassination fantasies – on the left. I know that means something, but I’m not sure what. I assume it has something to do with the terrible assassinations of three remarkable American men in a formative decade, about hagiography and “feelings” and narcissism, too. Someone trained in psychology and analysis will have to figure that one out.
The baby boomers have been a generation all-too-comfortable living their lives and working out their issues in public, and public “events” from The Kennedy Assassination/Funeral to the Chicago Convention to the Challenger Explosion to 9/11 have served as cathartic catalysts or backdrops to their never-ending, frolicking subterranean explorations of themselves and their psyches. First they wanted to dismantle “the establishment” and the dominant culture. Then they wanted to re-create moments of deep impact. I don’t know what it means. A few years ago, in a late-night ramble, I wrote:
I think of these baby boomers – in truth I am one of them, on the tail end: The children of The Greatest Generation – “the children of their sacrifice,” as Bill Clinton called them. A generation so in love with itself that it was able to turn to the generation before, the one that saved the world from Fascism and Communism, and sneer at them, rejecting their traditions as vapid, their faith as naive and their sense of honor and duty as mere mechanisms triggered by guilt.
I think with their kids, The Greatest Generation dropped the ball. They came out of a depression and a war so eager to give their children everything – to rebuild the world around their children – that they threw things out of balance. The children who had never suffered or “done without” retorted with a wiseass, “Oh yeah? Don’t tell us we cannot have what we want; don’t tell us there must be consequences for our actions; don’t dare to define the truth to us. Everything that came before us is suspect and probably wrong.”
Not everything that came out of the boomer generation was bad, of course, but – as Bill Kristol has noted, the civil rights advances of the 1950′s were mostly accomplished by the tail-enders of The Greatest Generation.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe the boomers look to re-creation because they deconstructed everything that came before. Their parents had those old bourgeois “illusions” of family, faith and community to guide their lives and give them meaning, security and a clear sense of themselves. Having cast all of that aside, all the boomers have to cling to are themselves, their media, and the “greatests hits” of the soundtracks of their lives. Your thoughts?
Just noted that Dr. Sanity is also writing on this. I’m hoping some of the blogshrinks will explore it further.
Meanwhile, security is being beefed up for Obama.
Siggy – who makes his living pondering this stuff – does some more musing on this topic, and he gets progressively explicit in his thoughts on a mindset that demands martyrs or saviors. That’s actually very interesting when you recall that after Dubya was in office, there were multiple headlines talking about how Bill Clinton was the “Savior” of the world.
Small Dead Animals linked. Thanks Kate!