…that Matt Stoller
would be puzzled. Writing about Clinton and Obama's failure to provide leadership on Iraq, he observes…
I find this puzzling for Obama since he's younger and presumably not affected by Vietnam...
Actually, I'm puzzled on a couple of counts. The first is that Barack Obama gets away with posing as some kind of Gen X wonder child. He was born in 1961, well within the WWII baby boom, which extended into 1963. Were he elected, he would be 47 when inaugurated, youngish, perhaps, for a president, but not exceptionally so. Eight US Presidents have been under 50 at the time of their first inauguration, and four of those, Grant, T. Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton, were all younger than a President Obama would be. What's with all this "new generation" business, anyway?
I'm puzzled, too, by the idea that someone who grew up with Vietnam's continuous presence in the news media and popular culture of his time, would be "not affected" by Vietnam. Every high school social studies class, every university history and political science class he ever too was taken in the shadow of the established record and continuing revelations about the decisions that led us into and out of Vietnam. In some ways, you might argue that Obama was affected as much, if differently, as those of us who actually went to Vietnam. We, at least, had a notion of a pre-Vietnam paradigm to compare our experience with.
I'm puzzled, in fact, by the idea that anyone in this country, anyone with a glimmer of political consciousness, at least, could be unaffected, or believe they are unaffected, by Vietnam. We're still affected by the Civil War, by World War II, by each of our wars, or should be (sadly, the war with the least contemporary affect is probably the Revolutionary War, which should have heightened relevance during the reign of the current King George. Forget that one, and we might lose it all.) The debate which has revolved around how Iraq might be analogous to Vietnam should be instructive. We're all affected by our history, even if the urge for way-newness makes us despise the notion.
Labels: Barack Obama, Iraq, Vietnam