The Glass House Gang

July 27, 2007

“Don’t start believing your own bullshit” and “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” are two maxims usually ignored by conservatives, but this laugh-aloud cover story in the Weekly Standard about “The 9/11 Generation: Better Than the Boomers” plumbs new depths of wingnut absurdity.

The article is memorable not for the brisk way author Dean Barnett (one of the geeks at Hugh Hewitt’s online carnival) riffles through the standard deck of winger whines — the ability to cough up ideological hairballs on cue is the sole qualification for publication in conservative magazines these days — but for the sheer self-immolating stupidity of the way Barnett sets up his argument. In a nutshell, Barnett pits the current crop of soldiers in the all-volunteer military against the cartoon image of Baby Boomers so beloved of conservatives and — surprise! — finds the boomers lacking:

In the 1960s, history called the Baby Boomers. They didn’t answer the phone.

Confronted with a generation-defining conflict, the cold war, the Boomers–those, at any rate, who came to be emblematic of their generation–took the opposite path from their parents during World War II. Sadly, the excesses of Woodstock became the face of the Boomers’ response to their moment of challenge. War protests where agitated youths derided American soldiers as baby-killers added no luster to their image.

Few of the leading lights of that generation joined the military. Most calculated how they could avoid military service, and their attitude rippled through the rest of the century. In the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, military service didn’t occur to most young people as an option, let alone a duty.

But now, once again, history is calling. Fortunately, the present generation appears more reminiscent of their grandparents than their parents.

Since rational thought and intellectual honesty appear to have been banished from the right side of the aisle, it probably never even occurred to Barnett that the boomers most conspicuously absent from the Vietnam conflict were the blowhard warriors who pass for the leading lights of conservatism. From Dick Cheney, who had “other priorities,” to Rush “Boil On the Bum” Limbaugh, one of the defining characteristics of the boomer conservatives is their history of daintily avoiding contact with anything smacking of military duty. The asininity of Barnett’s article is further enhanced by the fact that this party of draft-dodgers spent the last presidential campaign eagerly sliming and ridiculing John Kerry, whose record of service in Vietnam was so shaming to them that the GOP ginned up a lie factory called the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth for the sole purpose of defaming Kerry’s military career. Looming in the background is the fact that Barnett is peddling bunk in the service of an administration that has made the abuse of the military one of its calling cards, and turned the notion that Republicans “support the troops” into a lie so vile it should rot the mouth of anyone who speaks it.

(I don’t want anyone to think I’m only picking on boomer wingers; baby wingers are no slouches themselves when it comes to scampering away from the prospect of military service. This hilarious YouTube video from Max Blumenthal should allay any doubts that the next generation of wingers will come up short in the hypocrisy department.)

And yet it probably never once crossed Barnett’s mind as he typed out his collection of playground insults and wobbly conservative spin, or the minds of the Weekly Standard’s editors as they turned this tripe into type, that “The 9/11 Generation” painted what amounts to a great big bull’s eye on their collective backside, with a complimentary quiver of arrows for anyone who might bother to read it.

To be able to write this kind of nonsense while the pieces of your own glass house clatter and smash about you is a rare skill. It doesn’t say much that’s good about Dean Barnett (or his editors) and it certainly doesn’t advance the American cause. “The 9/11 Generation” doesn’t even qualify as good propaganda, since it crumples while reading.

But as another exhibit in the ongoing forensic examination of the intellectual death and decay of American conservatism, “The 9/11 Generation” is worthy of inclusion in the Smithsonian collection. And for that, Dean Barnett, I thank you. Now go pluck those arrows out of your backside.

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