Sept. 24, 2004

The Brat Pack

Victor Davis Hansen, one of my absolute favorites, has written a dead-on scorcher about the decline and fall of snot-nosed narcissism in the United States. He selects as his target Dan Rather, but could have chosen dozens of other targets who came into their own during the heyday of the Me Generation. The defining characteristics of the generation, of which I’m a part and an exemplar, are a sense of entitlement, reverence for glib chatter, disdain for gritty enterprise, fear of harsh realities, and contempt for anybody who attempts to point out that harsh realities beget shimmering triumphs — in short, brattiness, leavened by what Hansen calls “aristocratic smugness.” 

We Baby Boomers had it too easy. Our parents worshipped our progress through life, and we believed every coo of encouragement. We didn’t realize that all parents naturally want to worship their children. We considered ourselves an historic anomaly, a generation that left the womb and emerged shapely, perfect, virtuous and whole.

Rather’s difficulties won’t stamp out the unfortunate self-obsession of the Smuggest Generation, but they will provide a few chastening object lessons — the chief of which is if you are not humble, the world will make you so. Compare and contrast Rather’s weird attempts to justify the indefensible with Walter Cronkite’s sad but wise complaints about the sloppiness of the affair. Cronkite understands that the best defense for one who has committed an offense is a heartfelt apology. Don’t harrumph and explain. Don’t lash out.  Just say: “I was wrong and I will atone for my sins.” Cronkite, a member of the Greatest Generation, abides by old-school rules and regulations. He, like his coevals, understands that harsh, bright-line standards instill in people a sense of virtue, which in turn can put brakes on our natural impulse to indulge in self-destructive folly.

But enough. Read Hansen. He’s a genius.

Fraud, anybody?

John Fund dropped by the show today to discuss his new book, "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens our Democracy." John has done a yeoman’s job covering the murky world of electoral chicanery — the art of stealing votes, creating votes, destroying votes, and throwing the entire system into disarray through the wanton employment of lawyers. He offered a special warning against “provisional voting.” Many states this year will let unregistered voters vote, just in case they were actually registered.

Here’s the danger: If the presidential tallies in such states are close, you can expect activists to arrive in droves, demanding that authorities “make every vote count.” Fund warned that such tactics could annihilate the last vestiges of civility and trust in our democracy.

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