Friday, June 09, 2006

Boomers and their psychodramas

It's become a truism that the generation of "Boomers" (roughly, those born between 1945 and 1960) both had a significantly different experience and developed significantly different perspectives on life and their place in it than did those generations who preceded them. Born in the post-WWII era of economic prosperity and nuclear paranoia, to "Greatest Generation" parents who remembered the war and the Holocaust, the Boomers are alleged to have grown up more privileged and more self-oriented than prior generations. Certainly this "boomeritis" has been invoked to explain everything from the 1960s hippie uprising to the 1970s disco era to 1980s Reaganomics, and there's probably some truth in it (although, as a tail-ender to this era, and aware of how many of my contemporaries are still active in politics and social justice, I question claims for its ubiquity).

However, I think it would be reasonable to see both Bill Clinton's marriage/sexual psychodrama and George Bush's Oedipal neurosis as examples of this. Clinton obviously has all the programming for infantile self-gratification (think cigars and blue dresses) of his generation--but at least he was smart, genuinely engaged with and curious about other peoples' experience, and liked the work that went with being President.

Now we find the Bush II went to war purely and simply to, in Suburban Guerilla's felicitous phrase, "shove [it] up his father's ass" after Poppy repeatedly tried to bail his punk adolescent ass out of trouble again:

Former President George H.W. Bush waged a secret campaign over several months early this year to remove Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,” writes Sidney Blumenthal for

Excerpts from the article:

…The elder Bush went so far as to recruit Rumsfeld’s potential replacement, personally asking a retired four-star general if he would accept the position, a reliable source close to the general told me. But the former president’s effort failed, apparently rebuffed by the current president. When seven retired generals who had been commanders in Iraq demanded Rumsfeld’s resignation in April, the younger Bush leapt to his defense. “I’m the decider and I decide what’s best. And what’s best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain,” he said. His endorsement of Rumsfeld was a rebuke not only to the generals but also to his father...This effort to pluck George W. from his troubles is the latest episode in a recurrent drama — from the drunken young man challenging his father to go “mano a mano” on the front lawn of the family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, to the father pulling strings to get the son into the Texas Air National Guard and helping salvage his finances from George W.’s mismanagement of Harken Energy. For the father, parental responsibility never ends. But for the son, rebellion continues.

It certainly does ring true in light of the absurd petulance Junior displays when his decisions are questioned. But does he have to work out his beefs with Poppy using the world as a palimsest? That's what therapy is for--and it doesn't cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

Jesus! Can we ever get away from the Boomers' infantile psychodramas?

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