Tom Brokaw recently wrote a book about America in the 30's and
40's. He called it "The Greatest Generation"--and with good reason.
There is much to admire in these people who kept America going during the
difficult years of the Great Depression and who then, quite literally,
saved the world from totalitarianism.
Let me tell you, no one will ever call my generation "The Greatest Generation." We are not. We are among the most immoral and selfish people who ever walked the face of the earth. We have squandered the great legacy of past American generations and left a political and social mess for those who will follow us. We like to call ourselves "Baby Boomers," but that's certainly not the best name for us. Journalists once referred to us far more accurately. They called us "The Me Generation," and that is, in general, just what we are: a generation of people that care about themselves and almost only about themselves.
But selfish as we are, and as sinful as we are, my generation has a curious sense of self-righteousness. No matter what we do, we are somehow convinced that we are good people, well deserving of every blessing the world can offer.
How is it that we have such an extraordinary sense of self-righteousness?
It seems to me that, in part, this attitude stems from the days of the war in Vietnam.
The moral behavior of many high school and college students in the late sixties and early seventies was questionable at best. In this, we were probably not a lot worse than earlier generations of young people.
But there was one major difference for us. For us, the Vietnamese war seemed to be the great moral issue of the day, and it seemed to many in my generation that to take the right side over this issue meant that you were on the side of the angels no matter what the rest of your life was like. You could use illicit drugs. You could cheat on exams. You could engage in promiscuous sex. But as long as you were out protesting the war, you were an all-around good person.
But then the war came to an end. Time to face up to our individual faults?
Forget it. There were plenty of other issues to make us feel good about ourselves regardless of our actions.
Cheat on your taxes? Doesn’t matter so long as you favor affirmative action.
Cheat on your wife? Doesn’t matter so long as you favor increases in social security benefits.
Neglect your kids? Doesn’t matter so long as you favor universal health care.
It is, of course, this kind of thinking that allowed Clinton to survive politically. Anyone willing to look honestly at the evidence would realize that Clinton was guilty of gross sexual imposition if not rape, that he was guilty of abuse of power if not murder, that he was guilty of corruption if not treason.
But for a huge number of Americans, none of this mattered. Clinton was a good president because he stood for the right issues. He was for abortion. He was for affirmative action. He cared.
Now after defending a moral midget like Clinton, one would think the left would be ashamed to criticize anyone for any kind of misconduct at all. And the truth of the matter is that they won’t. Moral conduct does not matter to the left.
What does matter to them, however, is ideology, and anyone who does not share their angelic ideology is automatically demonized.
Notice the frightening speed with which many senate Democrats turned on former colleague John Ashcroft, launching a vicious smear campaign against a man who they know full well has the experience and integrity to do a first-class job as attorney general.
Ted Kennedy and his fellow travelers have for years been developing a kind of McCarthyism of the left.
Their next step: an inquisition in which we are judged, not by the quality of our character, but the political correctness of our rhetoric.