A Country of Belligerent Children
A Country of Belligerent Children
Written By   |   01.21.09

Reading Time: 3 minutes

For the last eight years we’ve been living with a bunch of children who don’t seem to know the first thing about family, respect for authority, or some of the simplest manners.

I have to confess, this confounds me to exasperation at times. I wasn’t raised like that. Granted, I was a belligerent kid at times. My mother often accused me of being a “smart-aleck” and yes, I was punished for it on a regular basis; eventually, even I got the message. (Though, it does still tend to seep out at times.)

Today, however, being a smart-aleck is considered a fine art. Hollywood has fine-tuned sarcasm, fed one-liners to the youngest child actors, and managed to make it sound cool coming from a grandma.

Even being the life long smart-aleck that I am, neither I nor the majority of my generation (baby boomers) were really hateful– at least not to complete strangers in public, or to those in authority. Civility and considerateness was always expected, especially from and towards those in authority.

In the 1950s and 1960s, teachers considered chewing gum in class and running in the hallways among their biggest problems; today it’s drugs, violence, and teen pregnancy. Likewise, the average smart-aleck of the fifties has now degenerated to a filthy mouth with no respect for authority.

Parents are constantly being portrayed as buffoons and the family as anything you want it to be. Not to mention children throwing tantrums outside of the privacy of home, airing dirty laundry at the neighbors, and portraying home to the world like it’s the worst place on earth when things don’t go their way.

Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand…” And while our civil war has been fought over the last eight years on the battlefields of ideology with weapons that obliterate public image and personal reputations, there have been many casualties.

A call for civility is now in the air. The children have decided it’s important to play nice.

MSNBC host and journalist Chris Matthews told Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe” that it was his job to make this new presidency work, saying “…you know what? I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work… it is my job. My job is to help this country…because this country needs a successful presidency.”

You know what? We needed a successful presidency after the worst attack on our homeland in generations. We needed a successful presidency after the airline industry came to a standstill. We needed a successful presidency after Katrina. We needed a successful presidency when our sons and daughters answered the call to lay down their lives for us. We needed a successful presidency when our stock market bottomed out, and the housing market crashed. We have ALWAYS needed a successful presidency. But those things didn’t seem to matter…until now. Even winning a war didn’t matter.

Or is that they did matter, but hating the president was more important, and his failure was needed to secure the desired change.

Lincoln also said, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.”

He was right. We have watched the media, late night comics, and SNL shape public opinion over the last eight years. And all the Chris Matthews of the media will do everything they can to insist that public sentiment is where it “should” be for his success.

But, we are turning into a county that looks more like a large dysfunctional family with many spoiled children lining up with their hands out asking for money they didn’t earn. Most children are only happy when they get their way. It will be interesting to see how long they are content, and whose success is the most important.

As a new president steps into the oval office and the old one steps into the history books, one will have to ride the relentless tide of public opinion, while the other watches the dust begin to settle. Eventually both will be stripped of their shield of rhetoric, and their triumphs and failures will be laid bare on the pages of history for coming generations to judge.

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