What's Tony Thinking

Talking ‘Bout My Generation and Other Notes at the Weekend


You’ll miss us when we’re gone. Maybe. The British writer, Mary Harrington, took the occasion of King Charles’s cancer diagnosis to reflect at UnHerd on his (and my own)  oft-maligned generation, the boomers. Harrington — who is not a boomer — swims against the stream of negative critique of boomers writing,

“But there are boomers and boomers. Much of the social fabric in my small town is held together by boomers. They show up to church. They donate their time to committees, volunteer for the council, make cakes for coffee mornings, and pick up litter. Small-town boomers are unfailingly polite, kind, generous, and public-spirited. In keeping with this spirit, boomers volunteer at much higher rates than younger generations . . .

“Nor is this the only store of cultural capital that threatens to expire with the boomers. As murmurs of concern grow louder over a supposed competence crisis — whether or not this is driven by “diversity” hiring practices — they are now exiting the workforce at accelerating rates. It appears, too, that they are often doing so without passing on their skills to younger generations.” 

Harrington’s observations about who does a large part in holding the social fabric together — i.e. boomers — squares with what I see in the two places I live, Seattle, Washington and Wallowa County, Oregon. As for passing on skills and wisdom, is there a market for that? I often been surprised by how very sure of themselves folks in today’s 20 to 40 bracket seem.

Asking the Right Question. There’s been a lot of fretting (again), in the wake of Special Prosecutor Robert Hur’s report, about President Biden’s age. But debating the importance of his age and related fitness seems to me secondary to another question, which Ross Douthat raises and responds to his NYT column. “How at this point can Biden actually go about stepping aside?” Is it, as many have told me, too late. It’s over and done.

Douthat urges Biden to go full bore on the campaign up to the August Democratic Party convention and then assess where things are. Has he gained ground on Trump, or lost further ground? Has he held up to the rigors of campaigning and convinced voters that he can handle another term? If not, suggests Douthat, then let Biden opt out and turn it over to the Convention. Moreover, bow out without making an endorsement. Let the convention come up with the party’s nominee and ticket. Is that even possible? I hope so. And it would be a refreshing change from what party conventions have become which is tedious infomercials.

How should the media cover Donald Trump? That’s another “right” question, one that Peggy Noonan asks in her weekly column in the Wall St. Journal. She notes the way that in 2016 Trump and the media had a co-dependent thing going. They lavished time and space on him, believing he would never win. In exchange they got a lot of clicks and eyeballs, improved ratings and revenue. Now the idea seems to be just cover him less or show only truncated versions. How about just doing actual, old-fashioned journalism, suggests Noonan? “Calm down and dig. No one needs your florid disapproval, they need information.”

She quotes the veteran journalist Todd Purdue, “There’s way too much heavy breathing in the daily coverage of Trump in the so-called mainstream media, and to me the tone of ‘In another goddamn outrage Donald Trump today did ____.’ I just think, tell me what he did, let me decide what to make of it. Don’t lean so heavily on the pedal to tell me with loaded phrases and words how dastardly and disastrous this is, let me discern that myself.”

Donald and the demonic. Of course, I did my share of heavy breathing this week in a piece where I suggested that Trump’s hold on his followers, and really on our national life, has a demonic aspect or feel to it. But then, I’m not a reporter (as you may have noticed).

Happy Weekend, a Super Bowl weekend when more people may be more interested in whether Travis and Taylor will be getting married, than in the Chiefs and 49er’s.






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