September 6, 2008
The End of Boomer Weirdness?
At Wichita State recently, a college debate coach dropped his trousers after a foul-mouthed argument with the opposing coach in a debating tournament. YouTube shows it for the world to see.
Coach William Shanahan, who sports a caveman beard reaching below his belt, said later that, yes, his reasoning might seem "convoluted," but his trouser-dropping act was intended a sign of respect for the opposing coach.
""Obviously it got out of control, but to be honest I thought I was in a safe house," Shanahan said. "I thought I was part of a community that handled its problems internally and that recognized the dangers of exposing ourselves -- no pun intended -- to the rest of the country."
Suppose these fine teachers were working for Governor Sarah Palin. How long would they stay in their jobs?
Believe it or not, this used to be a normal country. Maybe John McCain and Sarah Palin are a sign of a return to normal -- assuming the voters elect them instead of the comedy team on the other side.
"Boomer Weirdness" is the great eruption of irrationality that seized the West three decades ago, when the Boomer Left rose to positions of power. I don't think the Boom Generation as a whole is any madder than other generations; but the Boomer Left --- ah, now we're talkin' several curlicues short of a plumbline.
When the Boomer Left "Marched Through the Institutions" (as they called it) in the 1970s and 80s, you could actually see a sudden wild swerve in our news media, our universities and politics. The Democratic Party was seized by the Far Left after the 1968 Chicago convention. The New York Times went PC in the 70s, and you could actually see the new, Far Left orthodoxy lock down in a matter of months. It hasn't recovered yet.
But it wasn't just the US. Today the old, high-brow Times of London reads like a tabloid, with girlie pics and all. Britain is now a shadow of its former self; nobody knows if it will ever recover. Europe has become a defense parasite on the United States, and we tolerate it. The Western world went from rational thinking to the Planet of the Weird. It's been slip-slidin' away ever since. Normal people watch it happening everywhere, and they feel utterly helpless to stem this epidemic weirdness, often rising to the level of criminality.
Our Leftist politicians are all kind of weird. From Howard Dean's Scream to Obama's uncontrollable God Complex, from Hillary Who Must be Queen to Bill's sly seductions, all the way to John Kerry's delusions of Swiftboat heroics, and Algore's weird idea that NASA should launch a hundred-million dollar satellite specifically to beam TV pictures of a rotating Planet Earth back to all of us -- these people are not planted on terra firma. They have little planetoids going around their heads.
Nancy Pelosi's bubblehead response to questions about oil drilling is "I'm trying to Save the Planet." Don't tell me that's normal. It's not even normal in the hare-brained precincts of San Francisco. This is the woman who took it upon herself to negotiate with Bashir Assad as soon as she was elected Speaker, while her sidekick Steney Hoyer went to the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, to the distress of the Egyptian government. Barack Obama even sent Zbig Brzezinski over to Damascus -- to do what? Negotiate with Bashir Assad? Tell him that help was on the way?
This is madness. But running a separate foreign policy has been a Democrat routine ever since Ted Kennedy tried to undermine Reagan and House Democrats tried to aid the burgeoning Communist Sandinistas. But Cold War liberals like Jack and Bobby Kennedy would have called it treason.
The Boomer Left even gave its weirdness a pretentious name: Post-Modernism. Old-fashioned Modernism, according to this tale, is the height of rationality. The ideal of Modernism is good sense, objectivity, reason, logic, and tolerance for competing ideas. Its symbol is the Empire State Building, square, tall, and built to minimize real estate costs on Manhattan.
The US Constitution was built as a bulwark against untrammeled lust for power. The Founders didn't know Nancy and Harry in person, but they were pretty sure that power-mad demagogues would show up some time. They had studied history and understood human nature. As we can plainly see, they were right.
Post-Modernism leaves all that rational thinking far behind, like Alice tumbling through the looking-glass. The weirdness of the Left is not an accident; our hebephrenic media folk were taught flashy Po-Mo nonsense in their Ivy League classrooms, and they were dumb enough to fall for it. That is why they deliberately abandoned all those old-fashioned newspaper ideals of truth, objectivity and fairness. (And that's why the Old Media are finally going bankrupt today. Hooray!)
Count Alfred Korzybski is not a household name, but he is relevant here. Korzybski was one of those eccentric Polish geniuses who come along every now and then. His useful contribution to this topic is one word: Unsanity. For Korzybski a society could be unsane without being insane. He wrote about that in his book Science and Sanity, which came out in 1933, just in time to watch the world go mad. His timing was impeccable.
We don't have to consult a psychiatrist to see that our culture today is at the very least unsane. Just one little example:
We have more college-educated adults today than ever before. But our college grads are so superstitiously afraid of the little word "nuclear" that we have surrendered part of the very oxygen of our national life -- our energy supplies -- to the likes of King Abdullah, Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez El Loco de Caracas, and Putin the Poisoner.
That is unsane.
That's only one little example. There are hundreds, constantly infecting our national discourse, to the point that we take it for granted. It's just the way it is. Our national conversation has become polluted, sabotaged by media weirdness.
This is where the McCain/Palin ticket may be of historic importance, because both the Senator and the Governor are quite sane folks. You can't survive five years in the Hanoi Hilton if you don't have a pretty firm handle on concrete reality. You don't grow up hunting moose in Alaska if you confuse polar bears with teddy bears, as our eco-freaks seem to. Alaska is the polar opposite (so to speak) of Marin County.
If McCain and Palin win this election, we may be able to push the culture back to a level of sanity we haven't seen for thirty years. Our colleges could start teaching reason and logic again. That would be wonderful.
That is not to say that John McCain doesn't have his faults; he does. We can all give a list of serious mistakes, like the campaign finance law, which has now whip-lashed McCain's own campaign. But McCain is solid on energy and national security, on the economy and taxation. He may turn out to be exceptionally good on fiscal responsibility. John McCain takes abortion seriously, unlike our Left, which has trivialized fetal extermination so completely that we aren't even allowed to talk about it any more
On the great issues of the day McCain and Palin just seem a lot more rational than the opposition. They can think straight. After almost two years of national exposure, Barack Obama is a bigger blank slate than ever; if anything he has deliberately confused Americans even more. Nobody knows what he would do if elected, and his potential appointees are freakier than Clinton's. As for Joe Biden, over 35 years in the US Senate he solidified his rep at the biggest loose cannon on that wildly careening deck. Between Robert Byrd and Joe Biden, the Senate has become as weird as the Oprah Show.
Our choice in the fall will come down to two pretty normal people who seem to think straight, versus two Lefty oddballs.
Weirdness has its entertainment value, of course, and public comedy may be the biggest contribution politics ever makes.
But when it comes to steering the ship of state, I'd rather go for steady character and strong values than for the wildly gyrating compass of Barack O'Biden.
They will call me weird, of course.
James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com