I was amused to read Maureen Dowd’s recent column titled “State of Cool” in the New York Times, calling Hillary Clinton “cool,” because I was about to write just the opposite — not just about Hillary, but about her (and my) whole generation of liberal-progressive-whatevers. They are anything but cool. They are the New Squares.
But allow Dowd to state her cool case:
Hillary Clinton cemented her newly cool image and set off fresh chatter about her future when she met at the State Department with two young men who created a popular Internet meme showing photos of the secretary of state on a military plane, wearing big sunglasses, checking her BlackBerry and looking as if she’s ready to ice somebody.
The pictures, as Raymond Chandler would say, make Hillary look “as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.”
The meme, which exploded on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter, was dreamed up last Wednesday by Hillary fans Adam Smith and Stacy Lambe, communications specialists here in Washington, at the gay sports bar Nellie’s.
Wow. An old person trying to emulate the hipster young. Dowd goes on to detail various snarky tweets attributed to “Hillary” (Romney should start drinking, etc.). How cool.
Well, actually not. It’s pathetic. How could a generation that has not changed its worldview one jot since 1968 be considered cool? That’s 44 years dancing to the same DJ with no alteration of rhythm or style or even a change of venue. Since the sixties, it’s been one long variation on The Twist — and Chubby Checker did it so much better in the first place.
So what follows is not going to endear me to this group.
It is my personal observation — having been there and done that in more ways than one — that the ones making the loudest noises now were some of the biggest losers then. This is true not just because Clinton looked rather, excuse the term and the sexism, dowdy as a Yale Law student, but for the deeper reason that what we have around us now are the cowardly also-rans of the sixties and seventies.
That is not to say that Mark Rudd, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Huey Newton, Angela Davis, etc., etc. were and are anything but execrable, often horrifically violent, individuals. At least, however, they did something. What I mean is this: the leaders of modern liberalism are the people who stood by and watched them, too cautious to join in but admiring (to some degree at least) of their actions. These are the people who didn’t drop acid but kind of wish they had.
So they have spent the last 44 years making up for it, stuck in time as if Haight-Ashbury were still the place to be and the Airplane was still playing at the Fillmore.
That would be harmless enough, but this need to be thought “cool” by a decades old measure permeates much more significant aspects of our culture than whether you sport a tie-dye shirt or still smoke an occasional reefer. It infects the values of practically everything and literally dictates the views of our mainstream media. The MSM is shot through with sixties also-rans, desperately trying to make up for their not quite cool pseudo-left, pseudo-hippie high school years.
This affects the ability to see clearly and makes advocating significant change practically impossible. No wonder many of these poeople still cling to the welfare state when every bit of evidence shows it poised to bankrupt our country. To go against the liberal orthodoxy would be uncool — something particularly anathema for those who weren’t cool enough (or thought themselves not cool enough) in the first place.
But there is nothing more square then to stay the same for decades (literally generations) as the world changes. Liberals have become the New Squares, conventional and predictable to an almost unfathomable degree. Like the very reactionaries they excoriate, they are always thinking backwards, trying finally to get programs right that were first tried in 1932 (and in some cases 1917) and have failed dozens of times since in literally dozens of countries.
If that’s not square, what is?
UPDATE: A commenter – born in the 1960s – complained about being lumped with the Boomers. He has a point. Some interesting birth dates follow: Abbie Hoffman – 1936, Bobby Seale – 1936, Jerry Rubin – 1938, Tom Hayden – 1939 and the “youngster” Mick Jagger – 1943.