by Emmett R Smith
In the Washington Post today
MR Jonathan Weisman had the following remarks:
Among some conservative Democratic politicians last night, there was an almost palpable sense of relief that Obama showed he could win over their constituents — the blue-collar, rural whites who, they feared could bleed over to the GOP in the fall.
“It’s not Senator Clinton’s fault, but the baggage she carries is the divisiveness of the 1990s,” Edwards said. “People are wanting to turn the chapter to the future rather than going back to the last chapter. It’s not fair but that is the reality.”
It is in the nature of things that all people as they age — and, generations — keep lists. This goes on regardless of precious gender politics and what each and every little precious ethnic one of us may happen to have swimming in their pants. It is only rarely in political history that someone who is actually old can first of all accede to primary power and then, two, successfully unite enough of a populace to make a difference to the human world. Even so, with these really old ones, it is still even odds that it won’t work, because of the load (we say “agenda” in America now, because of being snappy and up-to-date and “postmodern” and kewl and online and in denial and so on….) of prior debt and resentments. In considering WW II, we think naturally of Old Churchill.
Not unnaturally completely shameless (hard as we have tried to be!), not a few of us now want to horn in on some of this “good stuff,” too, the grandeur as we think of it, of our parents’ so-called “greatest generation.”
Who we are forgetting, of course, is French Vichy Premier Petain.
He was another actual war hero, a nationalist — and, after 1940 he collaborated with the Hun. There were limits, of course, he refused to hand over Jews who’d served in the French Army to the gestapo, but his too was a generational and conditioned view every bit as much as our own. At least twenty years older than Old Churchill, Petain was already middleaged when the 1900-era Dreyfus case came along, and the reactionary Petain already then was an anti.
Now, more or less hovering around sixty years, we aged and languid 1946-64 esthetes and credentialed professionals and universal antis of one sort or the other, all want to be taken for Churchill of course, or at least to be seen as on the side of History, whatever that is. But while he was all of sixty-four when he got his new start, in 1940, we all need to remember — regardless of what we may each one have speciously wetting our pants and regardless of the undignified “Viagra” nightly on offer in our Tee Vees — that eighty is, really, looming and bearing down with all of the awesome velocity of an unpiloted 747 airliner on us all, all doomed and damned and highjacked by our un-monumental horror of…insignificance.
By the time he was seventy, in 1945, Old Churchill was flang out on his arse by a fed-up electorate, who honoured, er, honored his war leadership but now wanted socialism. Regardless of dignity, then, that old warehouse of warfare speechification got himself “back into the shithouse” in time for Her Majesty’s coronation, only then at last to preside over, if not the dissolution of the British Empire, the advent to power anyway of the unhappy Sir Anthony Eden generation, of Suez infame. And so, by eighty, he (Churchill) was truly tired and being treated to the gift of truly senile portrait-paintings which he loathed. All that lay ahead was to linger in the uncertain glimmer of remembrance for a further eleven years.
In all that hellish glare, and whilst I am quite certain that it is entirely natural for us to continue to rehearse our increasingly urine-stale grievances with one another in the factitious antique terms of thirty-five years ago, I do expect that it becomes now only Evil at that point where, in the pretty generally false and wicked guise of “wise elders,” we try to pawn this un-selfconscious archaism onto our grandchildren. Accordingly, let us for Heaven’s sake and just for once keep this increasingly foul stuff daily more to ourselves and, modestly for once, just once as a generation, yank Mrs Senator Bill Clinton from off of the stage of life with the longhandled shepherd’s crook.
It is past time to lay to rest the nasty ‘ninties ghosts — and, all of the 1970s cocaine dreams….
Nor am I adducing here any “ageist” doctrine, but rather only recalling us all to the wisdom that formerly was the gift of time, to the then relatively few who lived to grow old.
What endangers us sheepish overcrowders all now is not the fetid “isms” of our mostly misspent dopey youth. Rather, it is the underlying lack of any notion of dignity that menaces with its load of final degradations. This, indignity, more than anything else about us as a mob, a gang, a “demographic” — anything but men and women truly free, above all of themselves! — is a grim consequence of our inconvenient and extravagant numbers.
Whereas indeed, we are not “better” as a generation — far from it! — “just because” we confuse excellence (and, virtue!) with the botoxin-injected crowds at the senectuous 50th highschool reunion. As matters stand now, we can only ask ourselves:
HOW Many never really left…?
[Emmett R Smith all rights reserved 13 February 2008]