Roger L. Simon

Campbell Brown and the Sixties Generation Envy Phenomenon

Trapped on a Delta flight from JFK to LAX yesterday, I watched a lot more CNN than I normally do, slogging through the Situation Room followed Ms. Campbell Brown augmented by a chorus of Obama idolaters that made David Gergen, of all people, seem like the voice of reason. (He was the only one to even mention McCain in a show that lasted close to half an hour.)

Today I noticed an article by Brown on the CNN site that encapsulates her show – Behind the Scenes: Demand for change strong forty years later. Here’s a taste: In America in the late ’60s, a generation was grappling with an unpopular war and an unpopular president. The country was impatient; there were massive pressures for social change.

I am struck with the photos of the millions along the tracks, a spontaneous outpouring of grief, uniting Americans of all races and all ages — rich and poor alike.

Etc., etc. What’s interesting is Brown herself was born in 1968. She didn’t get her chance to “turn on, tune in, drop out” like us oldsters. If she had, she might not feel exactly the same way, making the familiar but absurd equation between those “unpopular wars” Vietnam and Iraq (and, by extension, the War on Terror). She and many others like her of her age seem to have developed a form of “generation envy” that clouds their thinking, a kind of nostalgia for nothing. They missed out on being cool, dropping acid and listening to “The White Album.” Well, I’m sorry – you’ll just have to live with it. But history moves on. Having been there, I can attest that 1968 and 2008 aren’t remotely similar. And the enemy we are facing isn’t remotely the same.

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