BOSTON (CBS) – Here, in one irritated bleat from America’s fourth baby boomer president, is the perfect epitaph for his generation’s political legacy.
Reporter: “Dr. Fauci said this lag in testing was in fact a failing. Do you take responsibility for that?”
President Trump: “No. I don’t take responsibility at all.”
– March 13, 2020
Refusal to accept responsibility for their own leadership failures is the trademark of boomer political culture. Consider the track record of the boomer presidents (born between 1946 and 1964) so far:
Bill Clinton (born August 19,1946) lied about his adultery and recklessly expanded incarceration.
George W. Bush (b. July 6, 1946) lied about WMD in Iraq and recklessly exploited post-9/11 patriotism for short-term political gain.
Barack Obama (b. August 4, 1961) liked to pretend he was a Gen-Xer, but his boomer instincts occasionally leaked out. Remember “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor”?
And like a tornado scooping up all the worst character traits of his generation – greed, extreme narcissism, hypocrisy, incompetence and pathological dishonesty – and devastating the countryside with the toxic mix, Trump has taken pole position for the title of worst boomer politician ever, to the point where a worn pre-boomer figure, Joe Biden, is successfully branding himself as badly-needed relief from the horror.
Trump’s performance so far in the coronavirus crisis has offered a buffet of me-generation vices.
His stubborn denial of the threat’s mere existence mirrors his generation’s at-best halting response to global climate change. The humanity of potential and actual victims is a distant afterthought, if he thinks of them at all; instead, a cruise ship carrying infected US citizens should be kept from returning to California “because I like the numbers [of victims] being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”
As a member of a generation known for it’s sky-high self-regard, Trump might occasionally spit out a bit of canned humility forced on him by anxious aides. “We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family,” he said in last week’s hostage-video speech to the nation. But then the tweets begin: “Our response is one of the best…[the Obama administration’s response to the Swine Flu outbreak] was a full-scale disaster.”
Generational analysis has its limits. Pathetically, some Gen-Xers and Millenials seem intent on aping boomer irresponsibility, like the crowds of nitwits packing the bars in cities across the country this weekend in flagrant disregard of every warning.
And there are plenty of boomers who do the right thing for their communities, think of others first, value ethics and fairness. If the Trump era is headed for the trash, it will be the still-dominant boomer vote that deposits it there.
When the last boomer passes on, some of the generation’s artifacts will be treasured: sushi available almost anywhere; movies by Steven Spielberg; David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, etc.; and of course, the internet… well, maybe not so much.
But when it comes to competent, responsible, honest leadership at the highest levels of politics, the verdict is in – the boomers are a bust.
And these days, we’re literally sick of it.