Memories Of A Late Boomer

I was at best a late baby boomer, although my wife says I’m older than I should be. But as I saw one of them today, I thought of the momentous national moments of my lifetime and found clips of them on YouTube.

Some years ago, my daughter asked if my (Republican) family celebrated on that day. No. In those days, we didn’t even THINK such things: someone shot and killed OUR president.

You can imagine the wonder and intensity with we watched a man step onto the surface of that light in the night sky that all of human history had only watched.

The presidency was the pinnacle of popular conception of American government, that parents inspired children about the possibility of achieving. But none had ever resigned the office.

Having been intrigued with American politics since I was a boy, I stood with raised fists and declared, “It’s a landslide!” as Ronald Reagan’s strong 1980 election victory became apparent. There were a handful of notable highlights of that presidency, which was the political zenith of my life that began in 1957. But after a lifetime of Cold War with The Soviet Union, this was the moment that would sear a memory for the rest of life.

In the end, the public was generally happy with Bill Clinton’s administration that adjusted and managed to maintain a public confidence that kept the economy in relative health. But folly too common to men in the office of an American president, made these the most memorable words:

George W. Bush rode reasonably economic vigor from his tax cuts for 6 years while presiding over government spending and growth to make most Democrats proud. But the lavish spending and the accession to endorsing the “ownership society” that bullied lending institutions to risky lending (though he had warned about the liability of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as rebuffed he joined in celebrating), the system finally choked. But in Bush’s years, the most vivid images are represented in these videos. The 1st is the 2 plane collisions. The 2nd is Bush being informed at the elementary school. The 3rd his announcement to the nation. The 4th is his speech later that day at ground zero.

With the excuse of that crisis and the raised bar of Republican spending, Barack Obama immediately shattered records for government spending, growth and intervention, and constitutional indifference far exceeding all past presidents. Probably most emblematic was the health care reform bill, which was jammed through by legislative artifice in defiance of public objections. It is almost certain to be found partially or entirely unconstitutional. If it is not, that may provoke a public reaction as big or bigger than the reaction to Obama’s 1st 2 years. The law’s ungainliness is probably appropriately best remembered by Joe Biden’s gawky presentation of the bill’s signing.

Hopefully, the next one will be a great landmark in the difficult way out of this mess.


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