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The Young And The Not So Restless

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regrets, i've had a few.

The man holding a cardboard Hillary Clinton’s breast is Obama’s chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, 27. This photo appeared on Facebook, and since its discovery has prompted a contrite and totally unsurpising apology by Mr. Favreau to the future Secretary of State of the United States of America.

Youthful indiscretion is something we all go through, but it’s not something we usually expect from the senior echelons of American political life. However, my guess is that scanning Facebook for more examples of drink + youth = stupidity inside the Beltway will probably turn up a much larger crop these days than in the distant past.

The reason? It seems that more than ever, the young footsoldiers are moving on up. Some of Obama’s top field operatives were barely out of their teens, and the Cable networks are full of earnest, fresh faced journalists who probably shave perhaps once a week at best. The Atlantic Monthly in particular seems full of them. Neel Kashkari, the surly and hopeless Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, co-ordinator for the Financial Bailout, and chief dry cleaning pick-up consultant to walnut-brained Hank Paulson is another example.

It’s hard to imagine that even though these neophytes seem really, really smart, that have the life experience or smarts to be able to act on behalf of the nation, but there it is. Frank Rich alluded today that perhaps the “Brightest and the Best”, a term originally forged with irony when referring to the fabulous resumes of the disastrous Kennedy-Johnson years in ‘Nam, could be applied to Obama’s peeps too. It’s certainly a scurrilous and counter-cultural idea, now the press has turned on the gush overdrive in its dealings with “The One”. But often the really smart guys often don’t turn out so smart after all. Maybe they’re too smart. Maybe they’re not street smart. Maybe a character flaw – like arrogance – for example, lets them down. But something about smart is, well, not so smart.

The attack of the young begs a question about the role of seniority in the Senate for example. Young politicians join the Senate, and realize that they have to wait their turn to get stuff done. And when Robert Byrd is still roaming the place at 97, that probably doesn’t bode well for their chances of a legacy on the Hill. So some of them bail early. A good example is the next President. He took one look at the place and said uh-uh. This place is for stiffs only. I’m moving on. And when you’re a US Senator, there’s only two places to go. The White House or the Cabinet.

Joe Lieberman called Obama, a “fine young man” not yet ready for leadership. But the young have arrived and they’re here to stay. Let’s hope that is a good thing.


Written by coolrebel

December 7, 2008 at 7:47 pm

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