by Victor Davis Hanson
Unemployment is still high, growth low, deficits huge. States are cutting out everything from streetlights to paving. Public pensions are exploding everywhere.
A class war looms between retirees who want their sweet-heart obligations honored, and strapped, poorer taxpayers who feel about those bloated payouts as they do their underwater mortgages.
What Did You Expect?
In a progressive culture, where ads blare hourly about skipping out on credit card debt, shorting the IRS, and walking away from mortgages, did the public employee unions really think they were exempt from a Chrysler-like renegotiation?
In the age of Obama, there is no real contractual obligation: everything from paying back bondholders to fixing a BP penalty is, well, “negotiable.” When the money runs out, the law will too. Law? There is no law other than a mandated equality of result.
The Talkative Crowd
On the Internet recently appeared the pictures of the JournoList  bunch, who at least between themselves gave up their usual pretense that the media was unbiased. With all due respect (confession: I was briefly mentioned by the list as someone that the racist card might work on in connection with the illegal immigration debate), they appear to the eye as a sort of nerdish group.
They remind me of what we used to call the “wimp table” at a pretty tough Selma High around 1970. It was there that the high school’s handful of geeks, toadies, and picked-upon used to eat, under the protective eye of yard-duty teachers. The assumption was that with a few steps further onto the grounds, the entire sorry bunch was fair game for every bully on campus. And that sad outfit filters, disseminates, and arbitrates our news? Most from their writing and appearance seemed either neurotic overachievers or twenty-something bloggers who confuse calling someone something with erudition.
Up Is Down
No wonder aristocratic golf became needed presidential relaxation, the old first lady hysteria over things like Nancy’s china cooled when Michelle hit the Costa del Sol, and Guantanamo became A-Okay. The news now for these guys is sort of like writing boilerplate race/class/gender oppression papers for a Yale undergrad gut class.
Populism Is Now Bad?
In contrast, the proverbial people seem angry. A book will have to be written explaining how in 19 months Obama blew a 70% approval rating and is headed for under 40% — something that took Bush six years. A handful of judges nullified what millions voted for in Arizona and California, apparently on the premise that wanting federal immigration law enforced, and seeing marriage as a traditional bond between a man and woman as it has been for 2,500 years in the West, was bigoted, analogous to the racism of the Jim Crow South, and thus in need of judicial intervention.
A guy in Bakersfield might think it prejudicial that a gay judge struck down an amendment to the Constitution passed by a majority of voters and opposed by the gay lobby; a guy in DC would think the guy in Bakersfield prejudicial for coming up with that preposterous conclusion.
Meanwhile, in our postracial age, race is everywhere: Charles Rangel, who won’t follow the tax laws he writes, whines about an “old-English, Anglo-Saxon procedure.”  Maxine Waters (under the cloud of insider bank influence peddling) and the Black Caucus (recipient of federalized GM donations) cite racism as the source of their ethical dilemmas (at least Larry Craig did not cite gay-bashing and Duke Cunningham reverse discrimination and Chris Dodd ageism and the late John Murtha girthism).
A mass murderer at a beer distribution center (so much for Van Jones’s assurances that such mayhem was a white thing) is portrayed on the airwaves as an aggrieved victim of racism lashing out. Not a word about the shattered lives of those gunned down and their families. Welcome to the post-racial Obama age — with much more to follow. (Nemesis gives no quarter: once Barack Obama years ago went down the patronize-and-use-Rev.-Wright path, the payback was only a matter of when, not if.)
History Is Negotiable
We sent our first delegation to the services marking the bombing of Hiroshima. Fine, but will we do the same with the Philippines, Manchuria, South Korea, and all the other places where the Imperial Japanese Army by early 1945 was killing on average well over 5,000 a day in its occupied co-prosperity sphere? To understand why Hiroshima, understand 50,000 American casualties, 100,000 Japanese dead, and 100,000 Okinawan dead at the conclusion of Okinawa ten weeks earlier, and then multiply it by a factor of 10 for the upcoming Japanese homeland invasion.
At home, a huge mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan will rise up before the new World Trade Center (maybe Bruce Springsteen can do a sequel to “The Rising”?). To suggest this is bad taste is bigoted. To suggest that we don’t know the where, how, and why about the funding, or why a self-proclaimed ecumenical group of Muslims wants to build ties by picking this provocative spot, or who exactly is behind the idea (or where exactly the promoter now is ) is the worst sort of Neanderthal right prejudice.
No problem. We can assure the 3,000 dead that their passing was marked by the enlightened harmony of a mosque preempting a new tower. What we do know is that in about a year, all over the Middle East, al-Qaeda videos will have photo-shopped “strong horse” posters and CDs of the ruins of 9/11 in the shadow of a towering mosque, with the accustomed boilerplate about how Atta et al. knocked down the looming towers in order to have Islam’s shrine rise up in their place. It all sort of reminds one of the nasty reception the president’s envoy on Islamic outreach just got from a Muslim audience in India. He was “shocked” at his reception — or translated into Valley Girl parlance: “Like, I can’t believe this is happening to me.”
I don’t think the polls quite capture the present public anger, which in not abating. Everything seems to channel into a general furor: Michelle’s movable feast from Costa del Sol to Martha’s Vineyard; the president suing Arizona and counting on a judge to nullify the public will, as part of a larger effort either by judicial nod or administrative fiat to get amnesty for 15 million future voters who will reciprocate at the polls; politicians bragging about handing out another $100 billion of someone else’s money here, another $200 billion there; the constant assumption that popular expression is retarded, and those who go to a tea party rally, vote to enforce immigration law, want to see marriage as it has been for millennia, want to cut federal spending, or are tired of identity politics are Palinesque clingers.
The Best and the Brightest
The common denominator? If one were to survey the elite campuses around 1975 and talk to those in law school, political science, or the humanities, then imagine them 35 years later as our elite leaders in government, the media, the universities, the foundations, and the arts, one could pretty much expect what we now have.
The present symptoms that characterize both our popular culture and current governance — shrill self-righteousness; abstract communalism juxtaposed with concrete pursuit of the aristocratic good life; race/class/gender cosmic sermonizing with private school and Ivy League for the kids; crass and tasteless public expression; a serial inability to take responsibility for one’s actions; the bipartisan mega-deficits; the inability to cut pensions and social security for the baby boomers — from the trivial to the fundamental, all derive from a bankrupt cohort that came of age in the sixties and seventies.
We see the arrested adolescence and hypocrisy that come from that sermonizing generation, whether in Al Franken’s puerile face-making, the ideologically driven suicide at Newsweek, the steady destruction of the New York Times, John Kerry’s tax-avoiding yacht, the Great Gatsby Clinton wedding, Michelle on the Costa del Sol, Nancy Pelosi’s jet, Tim Geithner’s tax skipping, or the constant race-card playing of a Charles Rangel and Maxine Waters. Yes, one walk across the Yale or Stanford campus circa 1975, and one could see pretty clearly what sort of culture that bunch would create when it came of age and was handed power. If that is reductionism, so be it.
©2010 Victor Davis Hanson