Generation OPosted: Saturday, May 17, 2008
Perhaps the greatest knock against Hillary and Bill’s campaign is their overwhelming sense of her entitlement to the office that will be decided this November. It says here that while that seemingly mimics the Clintonian ethos, it has as much to do with two numbers:
The first number is Hillary’s birth year, with her coming into the world smack dab in the original Baby Boom.
The second is Obama’s birth year, teetering between the aforementioned Baby Boom and the next generation, one much reviled by their older fellow Americans — commonly, often derisively, but here, proudly known as Generation X.
Hillary has endured many slights in her career, some perhaps imagined, and some very real, despite the propensity for the Republican opposition to taunt that she is claiming false injuries, all the while holding the bloody hammer behind their proverbial backs.
But in competing neck-and-neck with a younger upstart, one who may or may not be considered part of her own generation, Hillary is enduring the sleightest of slights — possibly losing the nomination to a younger, seemingly undeserving Party compatriot.
It’s a typical reaction of Baby Boomers, and it shows, without a doubt, what generation Hillary considers Barack to be a part of — and it ain’t her own.
Obama may enthuse some of the seemingly naïve we-can-change-the-world attitude that is both the best and one of the worst aspects of the Baby Boomers. But I don’t believe his agenda it is born of a naïveté, this yearning for hope. Rather, it is really the best part of my generation — a practicality born of a world weariness acquired before one’s time.
Hillary, for sure, deserves some props for her own well-paid-for world weariness, which has helped produce an almost impenetrable suit of armor, which she needs to hold her own against every kind of backlash she faces, some very much of the male chauvanist kind (this armor, unfortunately, renders the wearer incapable of producing empathy for said-wearer, a few well-timed New Hampshire tears aside).
But, remember, Hillary is very much a product of her generation. To quote her Web site, in discussing her parents and upbringing: “The life that Hugh and Dorothy created for Hillary and her two brothers was a classic 1950s middle-class suburban childhood.”
Gen Xers, on the other hand, were first portrayed as slackers as young adults. See Obama’s high school and college years in Hawaii and then L.A. and New York (he buckled down somewhat when he transferred to Columbia) if you want some examples of honest slacking masking an untapped reservoir of talent and potential. This generation has have been children of divorce, more so than most other generations, certainly the Boomers. Barack has got it on this account, too.
But we have also been a generation to grab what we could when we could, since the Boomers were and still are keeping the best pieces of pie for themselves, and borrowing against our future to make sure their pie is well-filled long into what should be our peak earning years. They’re still telling the waitress to put it on our tab, that’s all.
Obama, perhaps running before his time, perhaps stepping on some toes as the know-it-all upstart. Maybe his birthdate is a a little too early to be considered a “true” Gen Xer (though the social scientists Strauss and Howe would put him at the start of what they call the 13th Generation, their post-Boomer grouping). But teetering on the brink of both generations, he’s looking more and more like he’d fall in the latter one.
And as a truly practical Gen Xer, where many see a usurper, he sees an opportunity, one aided by timing and not a little bit of good fortune (some would call it luck), leading him to this particular momentum swing. That’s not only a Gen X trait, that’s an American success story.
Meanwhile, this could-be Gen Xer has sped past one Baby Boomer woman, shaking her head, if not her generation’s entitled fist.
Ed. note: Originally published on the old Crucial BBQ blogger site at 9:33 p.m. on Feb. 11. This post’s original appearance now resides on my The Icepick Cometh blogspot site. I still stand by my opinions in this post, and with John Edwards endorsing Obama this week, it seemed like as good a time as any to add it to this WordPress site.