If the 18th century produced “The Age of Reason” the 21st century has surely spawned the age of silliness. We are afflicted by a barrage of nonsensical bromides about everything from the economy to the putative “war on terrorism”. In press conferences so embarrassing for their frat-boy tone to his fly-by diplomacy President Bush is a disheartening example of a leader so bereft of intellectual and intuitive skills it is a source of wonder not just that he occupies the White House but that he has been allowed to show such disdain for our constitutional form of government and insult us all with signing statements that nullify legislation passed by “the people’s house.”
The country is confronted by a series of meaningless symbols set forth by White House strategists and promulgated by a Republican majority in Congress and its right-wing media consorts. A flag-burning amendment for heavens sake and a support- the-war-effort resolution offer abundant proof that these folks are the purveyors of silly platitudes that would be laughable if they weren’t such a consummate waste of the people’s time and so unmindful of the people’s needs. And what other world leaders travel the globe with flag pins in their lapels? We may be feared and hated in some quarters but we must also seem a bit ridiculous.
As for the economy, Rove, the president’s point man, is out pitching the Bush policy of “tax cuts and fiscal restraint”. The notion that a vibrant economy can be sustained by massive borrowing coupled with a declining tax base has to be one of the zanier economic policies in recent years. And with respect to fiscal restraint that little engagement we are conducting in Iraq would be a budget buster if it were ever included in the normal budgeting process.
In Congress, Republicans try to paint the Democrats as weak, “cut and run” types which requires the trashing of legitimate war heroes – – not an easy task, but one the majority undertakes with fanciful imaginings about what might have been. One representative actually suggested if John Murtha had been at Normandy he wouldn’t have ‘stayed the course’ and we might all be speaking Japanese and German. Could these people be any sillier – – or more dangerous?
What have we accomplished? In addition to the false premises for invasion, we have ushered in a level of civil disorder that has become a condition of life in Iraq. To celebrate the building of schools ignores the reality that dangerous conditions discourage attendance. And at a House hearing, witnesses from various departments were unable to provide accurate details about how money for security forces outside of the military is being spent.
Into the bargain hopes for robust oil production are constantly foiled by insurgents’attacks, and an environmental disaster looms. As reported in The NY Times, 6/19/06, the dumping of “black oil” discarded at refineries threatens to pollute the Tigris and the civilian water supply.
Against this background the president struts out to his press conference with an inappropriate jauntiness. Saying “Roger, Roger” to someone named Roger or remarking on the “shades” of another reporter shows a lack of seriousness and an unwillingness or inability to focus on issues of real import. We have become the silly generation, and it isn’t a good feeling.

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