The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Jul 052012

I’ve run a few posts recently on older generations running down Millennials, so I thought—before moving on—that I ought to add this clip.  It’s from the new HBO series, “The Newsroom,” written by Aaron Sorkin (first-wave Xer, born 1961, creator of “West Wing”) and starring Jeff Daniels (Boomer, born 1955) as the cynical yet philosophical news anchor.  In this clip, Millennials are portrayed as callow, shallow, and out of their depth.  The starring Boomer, on the other hand, comes across as deep, passionate, heartfelt—and the flagrant insults he flings at his Millennial audience (e.g., “if you ever wandered into a voting booth”) would be rude only if he weren’t speaking truth to power, which in the Boomer mind justifies any manner of offensive behavior.

I’d be curious about what you all think:



One complaint about Sorkin as a screen writer is that he loves to create set-piece dialogue situations which sets up his favorite character to rhetorically vanquish an opponent, sometimes lending his shows a preachy tone.  That certainly happens here.  I’ve never in my life heard a Millennial ask a Boomer a question like, “Could you say why America is the greatest country in the world?”  That’s like pitching underhand to Ty Cobb.  As one might expect, it triggers this Boomer to unload a truckload of venom.  (His initial reluctance, I guess, makes his explosion seem more authentic.)  Did you feel you were on the side of the preacher?  Or did you feel preached at in this scene?

And what about the substance of his remarks?  Are they on target?  Here’s a Boomer who no doubt recollects America’s First Turning greatness in the 1950s with the rising G.I. Generation at the helm–when we were “number one” in everything because the rest of the world was staggering among the rubble of WWII.  But, as I recall, it was the explicit intention of the leaders of that era to raise the rest of the world up to our level of productivity, affluence, and education precisely because we thought this would make the world a safer and better place.  Among other things, we thought it would foster liberal and democratic values worldwide.  That’s why we funded the Marshall Plan and created the UN, IMF, World Bank, Bretton Woods, etc.  In terms of geopolitical power, we remain the global hegemon.  But in other respects, we are merely one of many.  Would this result have really disappointed the leaders of the American High?  Does it bother Millennials today?

One last point.  Jeff Daniels (as anchorman Will McAvoy) does not talk so much about what his own generation has done that embodies a “greater” America (though he does talk about how we once did things for “moral reasons”).  Rather, he talks mostly about what he recalls of greatness from the elders of his youth.  Here, he epitomizes the Prophet Archetype, which seldom moralizes by invoking its own deeds—but rather by invoking memories of the Heroes it recalls from childhood.  There’s a wonderful book by George Forgie (Patricide in the House Divided: A Psychological Interpretation of Lincoln and his Age) about how Lincoln’s Transcendental Generation–an extreme example of the Prophet Archetype–was forever talking guiltily about their parents’ nation-founding greatness.  They kept wringing their hands about it even as they led American into the Civil War.

Or, if you want to go back to the Ur-Model of all Prophet Archetypes, look at passages by the wise old Nestor in Homer’s Illiad.  He complains that all the Achaean warriors arrayed against Troy are mere “boys” compared to the right stuff he recalls from his own youth—the age of Jason and the Argonauts.  When I first read this passage from Nestor, it made me think of all those fake re-enactments—like Mike Tyson versus Joe Louis in his prime.  I’m suddenly thinking, did some ancient young Dorian wonder, after hearing the Nestor stanzas, about who would have won—Jason or Achilles–if they had been put in the same ring?

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  • Jmc73l

    I have a question about first wave x’ers. The writer and obama seem to be more hyper boomer(?) than x’er.  It seems that both believe that this is not the greatest country, but it could be if…  if we went back to the big government ideals of the 60’s (LBJ) and that is what made other countries leap frog us.  Their free health care , free education -cradle to grave care , if only we had that then we could be #1 again. 
     I think most xers believe we could be great again if government just got out of our lives.  We can take care of ourselves.  We dont need a nanny state.

    How would you explain the difference ? Its like the show Mad Men , where 1960  was the height of the 1950’s (1st season)

    There does seem to be a piling on of the Millennials by both gens now.   Why were they raised on a pedestal only to be put down now? Is it their optimism that drives us crazy?  When there seems to be nothing to be optimistic about these days.  Im guessing bashing the younger gens has always been in style.    The generation’s remind me of this comic

  • A99

    Take away the liberal spin and I’d say I agree with much of what the speaker is saying here – except that he misses the point entirely. This country hasn’t fallen apart because a vapid, self-involved millenial generation has made it that way. The country has fallen apart because GI’s, Silents and Boomers have raped this country economically, leaving little hope for millenials and besides that, are chiefly responsible for the vapidity and self-involvement of the millenials, if there is any. As a Gen-X’er I can say the younger generations got their self-involvement from the example of the Boomer kings of self-involvement and their vapidity as a logical consequence of the Boomers hair-brained, drug induced utopian fantasies.

    We were your grand experiment in the classrooms of America. The results are conclusive. You failed. And now you blame us.

  • Jklugmn

    i think i’d agree that what’s being held up as the ideal is the boomers’ childhood, not their adolescence or young adulthood.  it’s father knows best and the marshall plan, and when jeff daniels says something or other about the people getting their information about the world, we know he’s talking about walter cronkite primarily, and maybe huntley and brinkley, but certainly no one more recent.  

    i agree that it’s not the millenials who are to blame for any decay, but i don’t agree our sense of decline is simply a matter of the rising quality of life in the rest of the world.  when he spoke of doing things for moral reasons and reaching for the stars, he was certainly referring to the gi generation and ww ii, but also to civil rights, the trip to the moon [in fact our reply to sputnik] and the unfortunately ill-conceived war on poverty.  [“not poor people.”]  but as much as daniel moynihan forsaw that public policy would lead to the destruction of the black family [with the white family to follow], the purpose was always grand and noble, a great SOCIETY.  somehow, though, reagan’s city on the hill turned into millionaires on parade, and the glorification of wealth and the individual not as a part of, but in contrast to, society as a whole.  

    things fall apart, the center cannot hold – that’s what’s happened and what he’s decrying, albeit inappropriately pointing to 20 year olds as if they had anything to do with it.  he’s a slick talking pale imitation of king lear, who had too big a sense of self-regard to see what really needed to be nurtured in the young, and is instead full of self-pity.

    • I agree that, from 1T to 3T, there have many lamentable changes in American society–and you’re right that one of these is our loss of confidence in building or doing anything great.  But Boomers, more than any other generation, were the ones responsible for grinding down all of the grand projects of the Silent and G.I.s by their fulminations against progress, by their moral indignation over hubris, by their “small is beautiful” precisionism, by their back-to-nature ludditism, by their reject-the-world gnosticism… well, you get the idea.  Jeff Daniels is nostalgic for the “Great Society”?  His generation destroyed the idea of the Great Society, since his generation rejected being great in favor of being moral and it rejected trying to become a workable society in favor of becoming a self-actualized individual.

      I think Boomers have many admirable traits.  But I have little patience for any generation (or individual) when it knocks the milk carton off the table, whines about it, and then blames someone else for all the mess on the floor.

      • Jklugmn

        the “great society,” like the marshall plan, the apollo missions, the civil rights movement, and so on, were not the creations of the boomers, but the ideals they looked up to as children.  [lbj, born 1908; mlk jr born 1929; jfk born 1917].  daniels’ character is nostalgic for his world as a child. he grew up full of himself and his sense of nobility because as a child he shared such big dreams. and being a child while he had those dreams, he was unaware of the compromises and the work and the sacrifices that had to go into creating realities.  thus, as an adolescent he was disgusted by those compromises, and was all the more noble in his own mind because of his disgust.  and he could explore his own consciousness much more easily that engage in a complex and compromised reality.  and then self-actualization turned into self-gratification in the name of self-actualization, at least for most.  not for jeff daniels’ character of course, who remains pure and noble. and thus, still, disgusted.

        • I think your description of the motivations involved is accurate.  I admire Boomers (disclaimer: I am one) for their willingness to cut themselves off from the conventional cues of their parents in order to re-create a new inner world, a new sensibility and culture, an overhauled hierarchy of values.  That’s the Prophet’s job–but it takes guts.  Only a handful of Boomers were ever materially rewarded (like Steve Jobs) for pursuing their inner vision.  Most built it (like Kevin Costner), but no one ever came—or they all came but no one paid.  The challenge Boomers face at their current phase of life is what Erik Erikson called “generativity,” the ability to realize that you need to pass on your agenda to younger generations who, with their different talents, can finally make it happen.  What Boomers like Daniels don’t realize is that Millennials are not the problem.  They are the solution.  They just can’t get beyond their personal frustration to understand that fact.

          • Jklugmn

            i agree.  the millenials seem too practically minded to join communes[ha], but many have a social and cooperative spirit that i hope will take them beyond the selfishness of many boomers.  [it’s so hard not to devolve into stereotypes in this kind of discussion.]  boomers are just really beginning to face their mortality.    generativity?  i guess we’ll see…

      • LichyardNomad

        Mr. Howe: The worst? Ha!

        I wrote a screed and deleted it and found that the last paragraph in that comment, about the milk carton, said it all….

        There are, what, 87 million Millennials? Aren’t 60 million less than 21 years old?


  • Richard Turnock

    You are correct that the question is the source of consequences of the monologue by Jeff Daniels. The question is based on cognitive biases such as framing of the question and converting objective evidence into subjective decisions. The question does not define “greatest” or how to compare countries. The evidence given by Daniels might or might not have anything to do with greatness compared to other countries.

    As a Boomer, who’s father fought in WWII, I understand what you mean by “invoking memories of the Heroes”. My father did not consider himself a hero.  According to the Greeks, a hero is someone who dies in battle and their side wins in the end. Everyone else is a survivor. I am very proud of my father’s service and what he did. He choose to come home to be with his family every day and spend weekends with us.

    Or did you feel preached at in this scene?

    He was preaching. Everything he said had to be taken on faith. 

    And what about the substance of his remarks?  Are they on target?

    As stated above, the target does not exist. There is no definition or process for determining the “greatest”. His remarks are a list of items that have no systemic relationships. He doesn’t make any of his assumptions explicit. His remarks have no value.

  • JPT

    It’s hard to see this as much more than a partisan rant. To the left America isn’t great because it won’t do what the left wants it to do, and to Boomers younger generations aren’t great because they won’t do what Boomers want them to. 

    The most noteworthy thing from a generational perspective is that the Boomer here (in typical Boomer fashion) blames everybody else for what he’s complaining about, and takes no responsibility.

    To me, America’s decline is fairly simple to understand. The country became extremely prosperous and powerful as a direct result of WWII. That prosperity led to decadence, which accelerated into hyper speed once the Cold War ended. Boomers , who never had to face the difficulties of the Depression and WWII took America’s stability for granted and proceeded to tear it apart. Now, they’re bemoaning the consequences of their own actions and blaming everybody else for it. 

    Not really news. The clip above is guaranteed to be annoying and offensive to anyone under the age of 50, regardless of their political leanings.

  • Giustino

    I recall I asked Chris Matthews a question about youth apathy in a similar forum many years ago, and his response was like having a hairdryer in my face set on TURBO, the man’s face turned purple and he careened off into a long diatribe about how we should bring back the draft and ridiculed me for admitting I was nervous to speak in front of so many people. I guess I wasn’t used to playing “Hardball.” I can’t say what’s better or worse — nanny state or corporate state (or lack thereof). Failure is failure, success is success. Our current healthcare system is a failure because it does not adequately care for the health of the citizens. The philosophy behind the system matters less to me than its ability to function. I am not interested in philosophical tangents, I am interested in results. It’s a waste of time to spar over the visions of LBJ and Reagan, two GIs whose grand ideas have had long lifespans, but are utterly out of date, and at which we grasp, like Daniels’ character grasps for his childhood, simple because we would rather look back at concepts with which we have some familiarity than try to predict the future. And, as aside, as a late Xer, I recall the “heroes” of my own youth — great comics, musicians, actors, writers. They are either gone (George Carlin) or too old to play any social role (Mel Brooks), though Woody Allen is still going (Thank God). These are people who “coalesce the vapors of human experience into a viable and meaningful comprehension” as Brooks quipped in “History of the World Part I” — to me just as great as the greatest of any other generation.

  • I thought the Boomers eschewed what their greatest generation forbears built – stood safely on the foundations of their parents only to use them as a safe platform from which to attack those same foundations, as per The Fourth Turning? 

  • This recent trend in reverse ageism is puzzling especially as
    the misnomer “entitlement generation” is so often used to describe generation(s)
    who may never enjoy any the entitlement programs they are paying for. My most
    frequently visited blog post is called “Entitlement Generation? Really?”, so
    it’s apparently a vastly popular term these days. David Frum said it well in
    his recent Daily Beast article: “If it’s uncaring for society to
    neglect the old, it’s outright suicidal to cannibalize the life chances of the
    rising generation.”


    That being said I don’t think we get anywhere by playing intergenerational blame games. I for one think that Boomers have contributed
    with more that self-indulgence and could not personally imagine living in a
    society that has been unfazed by the cultural revolution of the ’60s and the new
    value system it brought along. I think most of us today would be repulsed if witnessing
    parents driving their gas guzzling town cars down the highway while exposing
    their unprotected children in the back seat to passive cigarette smoke and
    racial jokes.


    I think besides the obvious problems caused by the recent
    recession, the problem is that continued growth is simply unsustainable unless we radically change our technologies, production systems and consumption patterns.
    Given our current consumption rates we would need five planets to sustain an
    average American’s lifestyle if other countries rise to our standards. These were considerations that never threatened to disrupt the grandeur of the G.I.s and Silents. But the
    burden of driving the innovations necessary to avoid, or at least postpone, Malthusian dilemmas is going to fall squarely on the shoulders of Millennials
    and the generations coming after them, and there must be better ways to
    encourage them to fulfill that goal than to vilify them.



    • Jklugmn

      re “vilify them.”  i doubt many millennials are watching that show.

  • Man, that clip reminds me why I don’t watch much TV.  And why I dislike having serious conversations about the world with people over 50.  It really is aimed at a Boomer audience.  Negative and backward-looking.

    I am an older X-er, but am quite optimistic about the future if we can make it past the next 8-10 years without destroying ourselves or until the Boomers exit stage right.  While the Boomer generation is bellowing about what they have lost or failed to preserve like this character, I see young people making different choices and finding the things that make them happy earlier in life.  A significant (and growing) number of them are turning their backs on consumerism and eschewing automobiles, for example, while developing cross-generational relationships.  They are maturing a bit later than my generation, but all-in-all, that’s probably a good thing.  They certainly are not the cardboard cut-outs portrayed here.

  • I hate to be one more person that doesn’t like Aaron Sorkin, but…Well, I don’t like Aaron Sorkin’s writing. That dialogue between the professor and the Daniels character is actually painful to watch and hear. The professor demands answer two times too many. The dialogue intends to force the Baby Boomer’s reluctance, but in the end, you know he is not reluctant at all. His speech is crafted and Jeff Daniels (his character) isn’t talking, Sorkin is. Audiences are smarter than some writers want to accept. It actually sounded a bit juvenile, unsophisticated, rife with cliches: “We reached for the stars.” And, then the worst; the nod to AA. “The first step to solving a problem is recognizing you have one.”

    Actually, there was one moment of clarity in an otherwise silly-in-a-bad-way scene. It was when the woman holds up the signs: “It’s not,” and then “But, it can be.” I did feel a twinge of hope in that, but damn, the camera panned again to the signs and I hate movies that tell me how to feel. And, that’s what Sorkin is doing. He’s telling the audience what to think and what to feel.

    Also, there are no Millennials named Jenny. That’s a flaw, maybe minor, but a flaw, in the script. Jen/Jenni/Jennifer — total Gen X name. That’s why someone wrote Beyond Jennifer and Jason for Gen Y. =) Her names should have been Izzy. =) And, one more thing. We are actually #1 for two more things. We are the  number one exporter of pop culture, which includes shi**y work like Sorkin’s. I saw him on Piers Morgan yesterday – with Daniels. Daniels is such a weak stick. Ugh. The other thing we’re #1 for: CHARITABLE GIVING.

    • Jennifer: Wonderful post.  You’re right about the name.  It shot up to the number one name for baby girls in 1969–and stayed there throughout the ’70s and early ’80s.  The reason: The famous Donovan hit song, released in 1968.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done book signings and a mid-wave Xer comes up and tells me her name, “Jennifer.”  I then say “Juniper?” and then she rolls her eyes and says, “OK, so you know!”  Btw, google “Popular Baby Names Social Security” to get access to the marvelous SSA database on names and birthyears going back since forever.

      The whole “number one” spiel in the Newsroom speech is idiotic.  First of all, it’s a tired trope–go back and look at Andrew Shapiro’s “We’re Number One” books in the 1990s, which played endlessly and sarcastically with this idea.  Secondly, the figures Daniels cites are often laughably wrong: U.S. at 178th in infant mortality?  Are you kidding?  Go back and check your UN or World Bank Human Development Indicator rankings.  As for being first place in incarcertations per capita, yes that does say something interesting about America at the end of a 3T (our incarceration rate is now dropping).  But did you ever see who’s last place on that list?  Nations in which malefactors are either never apprehended or are simply shot when they are: Chad, Congo, Liberia, Pakistan, Mali, Sudan.

      Sorkin’s ultimate charge against the United States is that we are superstititious and spend far more than anyone else on our military.  So were and did the ancient Romans, who governed a vast empire through major parts of three millennia.  One could do worse.

      • Thank you! In January 2011, Jennifer Graham of the Boston Globe wrote a great piece, “The Rise and Fall of Jennifers.” It’s a terrific piece about the once-youthful name now in rapid decline — even occasionally ending up in the obituaries. (Yikes!) I do love that Donovan song.

        On another note, I live in Oklahoma where we are number one in the nation for female incarceration and we’re in the top five for various other awful things like child abuse. They’re all awful things to be known for, but it’s a tired trope, too. I’m off to check out the Shapiro book. That SS site was fun. I think I found the roster for my kindergarten class: Roy, Danny, Doug, Scott, Kevin, Lisa, Lori, Angela, Amy, Stephanie, Kimberly…haha!

  • As a Millennial, it seems there’s a lot of conjecture about what we might do or how we’ll behave. Its not certain yet how the events of the 00’s will effect Millennials collectively. Our perspective on history is still pretty young.

    This clip is filled with different things I heard growing up from late-boom adults. The US could retrun to greatness, but the power of fiscal policy and where that money is invested isn’t determined by Gen-X or Millennials so blame can’t really be logically handed down.  I think it could be said that Boomers or this Prophet generation lacks strong leadership that can unite a divided country? 9/11 or the financial meltdown would’ve been a great time for a strong leader from the Boomer/Prophet generation as seemed to have happened historically.

  • TPaign

    Your Generation

    Written by Thomas Paign,



    U People will try to keep us d-down
    (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    While U work us into the ground (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    To support a future that’s already been s-s-sold (Talkin’ ’bout your
    I hope U die before U get old (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)

    This is your generation
    This is your generation, Granny

    Why don’t U all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    U better listen to what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    We are trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    To defend our future from your g-g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)

    This is your generation
    This is your generation, Granny

    Why don’t U all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    And don’t try to s-steal our p-pay-day (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    I am trying to cause a b-big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    I’m takin’ this message to the entire n-n-nation (Talkin’ ’bout your

    This is your generation
    This is your generation, Granny

    Pop your boner pills and p-play away (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    Kick the can again our w-w-way (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    We’ll no longer do what we’ve been t-t-told (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    Gotta steal our future back from the old (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)

    This is your generation

    This is your generation, Granny

    U People will try to keep us d-down
    (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    While U work us into the ground (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)
    To support a future that’s already been s-s-sold (Talkin’ ’bout your
    Yeah, I hope U die before U get old (Talkin’ ’bout your generation)

    This is your generation
    This is your generation, Granny

    • brookstyle

      Yes…I’d say this encapsulates some of gen y’s characteristics: Unoriginal and actually recycled from a boomer song, poor grammar, undeveloped, and self-righteous.

      • knucklehead1979

        Considering the original is selfish and vapid drivel, I’m sure recycling it into a statement that actually has something to say isn’t a bad thing.

        • mary

          I think the point is to be a PARODY. It loses some of its punch if it isn’t based on that song by the Who, which, as I recall, got airplay in the 1960s because it rang true with they young. It is almost poetic justice if you ask me: they wrote that song to strut about and define themselves as separate from their parents. Their children, however, in some ways side with their grandparents: stop this inner journey nonsense and WAKE UP.

  • Shadowcat60

    I admit that I got a kick out of this little spiel of Sorkin’s, but not because I think he is right. In fact, here lies a rebuttal to the speech his character makes, one from a REAL Millennial (and BTW, Sorkin, Millennnial females are usually not named Jennifer; Katie and Megan are more common.)

    “Sir, you are correct: the healthcare system desperately needs reform; the poor should not have to pay with their lives for getting sick and the elderly should expect their children and grandchildren to save a space at the table for them, both in the literal sense and in the sense that the sunset of life should be eased into just like the dawn, with grace and dignity. We spend too much money on military infrastructure and not enough on schools, roads, bridges, and civic programs. We currently have an immigration system that has remained largely untouched for 30 years and does not meet the current needs of people wanting to become citizens nor helps people adjust to a new culture or prepares them to function within it, and the social advancement of the African American community is now free to vote, but not free of poverty, crime, and the relative disintegration of families.

    However, there is an enormous, gaping hole in your thesis.

    I, and many of the people in this room, are too young to remember anything else.

    We simply cannot take you at your word about how wonderful life was during the 1960s and 1950s and how we used to be so much more moral, so much more invested in caring for our fellow man, about trips to the moon and creating great art and culture. We have no frame of reference like that and frankly could five a tinker’s damn about how idyllic your life was when you were sixteen, because it would appear that your generation has done everything in its power to neglect, defame, and otherwise wear out everything our grandparents gave you on a silver platter. Unfortunately, for you and for millions like you, you have only figured out that institutions cease to function well without careful stewardship, planning, and maintenance, and you have done it too late. You took for granted that things like Social Security would function forever as they were intended even with a laisez faire attitude in how it was run and greedily borrowing money from its funding since the Reagan administration, borrowing against the future to fund hair braned schemes of the present. You treated your children as extensions of yourselves or as an obligation that came second to finding yourself in a career, and now you look baffled and shocked when your own offspring refuses to make the same compromises you did because they are so scarred by divorce and laugh at you when you demand visitation rights as a grandparent in court. You treated your own parents with disdain and outright disrespect, men who were war heroes that sacrificed their lives and innocence on the battlefields of Europe and Asia, and rather than follow their example of trying to make the world a better place or taking their advice on what “hard times” really are, when there is no money and the world is falling apart, you just sat on your rear ends, smoking a joint or snorting a line of cocaine or even trying to amass as much personal wealth as you could at the expense of legislation the GI’s put in for a reason, like Glass Steagall.

    You seem to be awfully fond of blaming the troubles and ills of society on the young and their choices in voting, while at the same time you and yours have held political power of significance since the early 1970s and had all the power in the world to halt the decay and rot but instead chose to bicker like spoiled children….and you STILL are bickering. I have been able to vote only for the past ten years, and many of my generation will not be able to vote until 2020, whereas you have had the ability to vote since at least 1968, so many of the inadequacies you point out sir are nigh impossible to be my fault, but yours. Do not bother to retort you were doing your best in a hostile environment, because intentions are not results. Currently government, media, and business are dominated by Boomers and conventional wisdom shows they are highly disinterested in listening to the young and growing ever more out of touch with things this nation actually needs, like new innovations in technology, government, and how business should be run because the situation demands it, doing it the old fashioned way is a luxury we cannot afford and drooling over the 1960s is useless when it is 2012, a new century has dawned.

    Most of us here cannot remember a time when things were so wonderful. We only remember our parents destroying their marriages, the barriers that kept the poor from being raped by the rich, a government so polarized that it couldn’t agree on the smallest of matters, and our schools underfunded and overcrowded. We are dealing with what is, and paying for your failures. So is America the greatest nation in the world anymore? -I would actually say yes, because I have to believe, and every young person in this room has to believe, that it can be everything we dream it to be one day and save it from itself. We have to have hope, or all is lost. And I might add, sir, that we intend to do it with you or without you, so since you and your Boomer pals have proven you can’t even find consensus over this debate, let alone power, we have only one thing to say:


    • NAILED IT!!!!!!!

      • The expression “nailed it” is a pretty good example of what’s wrong with our generation

    • Tyler Christensen

      I lost count of the contradictions, so I just stopped reading. Good job though.

    • Jeanne ONeill

      Elloquent speech until the last sentence where you had to use profanity something your generation feels is necessary to show strength. I agreed with most of your speech except it was not the Boomers that put Obama in the White House although we are responsible for Clinton’s time there. You are going to have to have hope to survive. I hope enough resiliance was passed down through the gene pools to see this generation forge through the nightmare created by those who ruled before you.

      • mary

        I used profanity mainly because I admit I was pretending as I was writing that someone older and of consequence was actually listening, like that idiot Jeff Bridges plays on that show. If there is one phrase in what I wrote that will be tough to spin or obfuscate in its message, it is that last line: they could discredit me as a speaker, yes, but it would be harder to try to interpret my words as anything but what they are. “Get out of the way or be shoved there” is nice. It even is pedestrian compared to some of the “vitriol” (and I use the term loosely) that comes out of the mouths of Chris Matthews or Rush Limbaugh. “Get the f! out my face and get out of the way or be pushed there” is better. It signals that I am done being polite, the line has been crossed. It is straight, to the point, and otherwise there is a reason they call it the f-bomb: everyone goes silent and stops when they hear the explosion. It grabs attention immediately. I have grown up with far too many Boomers in love with the sound of their own voices who seem to think that talking ad infinitum to the point of hoarseness is the same as solving a problem, and I will not (nor would I expect any my age and younger) to put up with it anymore. If you do not like the rhetorical style, I shall direct you to the example of Thomas More. He once wrote a letter to Luther I believe, and though it sounded pretty in Latin, it got straight to the point a lot faster with several iterations of the use of the word “shit.” There was even name calling, with Luther evermore being referred to by More as a pimp.

        That being said, madam, I was only about nine years old when Clinton took office in 1992, just shy of ten as my birthday falls late in the year. I turned 18 in the same week as when the country voted for two candidates, GW Bush and Al Gore, and I remember all those years in between. Looking back, I remember the media seeming to drool over the latest pre-fabricated scandal like a leering, hungry vulture, because they knew the junk journalism they were doing was going to make them a bundle of money and nobody in government would lift a finger to regulate them; deregulation was just as popular in the media outlets as it was in banking as I recall.

        I remember the sensationalism. I remember my parents getting easily distracted over the tiniest and minor details of a certain development in the news, like Columbine, eager to point fingers and eager to scream bug eyed about Republicans or the overly lenient gun laws or (bluntly) behaving like Ms. Choksondick from South Park, but not seeing the big picture. They did not hold all politicians to account over it nor questioning if turning a school into a penitentiary would make children any more safe, or if it was just a band-aid measure on a bigger problem of absentee parenting and poor understanding of the kind of environment that creates boys like Dylan Klebold. I remember my teacher in school telling me that the fiasco over the electoral college that happened once could not happen again…and it happened exactly the next day. On a day that was supposed to be a milestone, I got a preview of what was to come. I saw the Supreme Court hand the election to a man who did not deserve to win and whose brother was ominously the governor of the state in dispute. I saw not a finger lifted to challenge the Supreme Court on its dubious judgment and not a thought given towards legislative innovation, a revote, and I saw the will of the people subverted in nefarious ways. The only thing that made it worse was that months later, when I started my first day of college, the Bush Administration took the tragedy and terror of its own people and use it as a tool to wage a senseless illegal war. I was one of those people, I might add, that ran for their lives in Washington as the school I chose was there.

        That leads up to now. I am personally disgusted that men like Aaron Sorkin would dare speak about how wonderful the world was when he was young:he would not survive the world I knew as a child and would probably shatter to pieces if faced with the economics of the present day, since dreams don’t put a roof on your head and dreamers don’t have even a shadow of the resources of the 1960s. It is like hearing Marie Antoinette. Overwhelmingly since the 1990s Boomers have dominated the floor of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the West Wing. They also make up most of the top generals. Year after year I have witnessed what their stewardship has wrought: nothing, sound and fury signifying nothing. Obama is an Xer but he is dealing with a hornet’s nest of Boomers who don’t want to understand that their children are angry at being let down repeatedly over the years, starting from a young age. They are often the last people willing to make personal sacrifice and thus far cannot see that their need to find inner peace and happiness cannot come anymore at the expense of their children, because the kids are less and less willing to pay for it. The Boomers will be taught the meaning of sacrifice before they die-perhaps then they can find the cosmic wisdom they so crave after years of fruitless and worthless self absorption. Obama is but the first step of many to come, and as I said, we are going with our without you. Choose.

        • Bill Medley

          Nailed it my ass. You really need to get off your computer and get laid. Talk about being in love with the sound of your own voice. One statement sums everything up, “those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it”. I’m an Xer and have adapted, overcame and improvised my way to a good fortune. I didn’t hurt anyone in my efforts and have been fortumate in investing. How did I do this…learning from the past. You can continue to blame everyone just like the character you so adamently dislike. While your spewing as much” Millenium” venom as the “Boomers” BS, this Xer is just sitting back and reaping the reward. And by the way, using the F-Bomob puts in the same esteemed catagory as just about every gang member and white supremacist out there…you’re just looking to be heard. And good luck with Obama!

  • Dougrek

    Thank you for this. I hated the show for the same reason. Sorkin imagines himself ‘above the fray,’ but in reality he just wants to have HIS say and tell everyone else to shut it.

  • As a boomer who works on education and diversity issues, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many Millennials, and I’m grateful for it. I can’t quite grasp how the generation that vowed never to trust “anyone over 30,” suddenly thinks that no one under 30 has anything of value to teach us. My biggest problem with the clip, as with much of the work on generations, is that it is largely from the perspective of middle-class white people (men, really).  Were the 50’s and 60’s all that great if you were African-American in the segregated South or the prejudiced north? Does 9/11 mean the same thing to an American-born white as it does to an immigrant of color? Perhaps a clip from Mad Men will expose how good those good ‘ol days really were. I’ll take this multicultural decade any day. 

    • Salamon2

      Not to distract from the conversation, but I find it fascinating that the arguments of the “Generation Gap” begin popping up in the mid-1950s with reference to those coming of age at that moment (graduating high school and college).

      Boomers might have taken over the Generation Gap in the 1960s, but the Generation Gap was originally inspired first by the Silents.

  • Maddy

    The Sydney Morning Herald ran a piece on how this generation is the most narcissistic ever. The idea of the damage of the ‘self esteem movement’ and the feeling that its mistakes MUST be ‘corrected’ or we’ll have a generation of narcissistic selfish adults is being propagated. It’s such a load of rubbish as the 3rd turning is often the most individualistic and the 4th is much more social and community-protective. Sounds like panic from Boomers to me over a perceived moral degradation that maybe the Boomer generation would have fallen prey to if they had had the same technology, but the hero generation (Y’s, millenials) have got it together; they’re mature, focused and care about the world, not just themselves. Their main problem is the heroic and severe pressure they put on themselves to achieve (see current Millennial Olympic failures and how they berate themselves) and not let others or themselves down.

    Here is the article:

  • Not too sure what to make of it. First off, it’s passionate as one would expect from a boomer. ‘Liberals Lose?’ When was this written 1985? Liberals have won on almost every issue as far as I can tell. With regards to his telling the young woman she’s part of the worst generation, I recall the Baby Boomers saying the exact same thing to Gen-X twenty years ago. I can’t help but detect a note of disappointment in Jeff Daniels’ at this point. The Millennials haven’t embraced the 60s optimism (yawn) to the degree they should have. God forbid they forge their own identity. Strange piece.

  • Tim Thrush

    I agree with the idea that The United States of America isn’t the greatest country in the world. I’d even argue that building a high sense of nationalism is a dangerous road. However, that’s for another time.

    I think it’s about time the older generations took responsibility for the mess that’s been made that we have to deal with. One could even argue that the greatest generations are the ones that set a particular generation up for success and that the worst are the ones that set one up for failure.

    Most men and women aren’t their own man or woman until they’re in their 30’s and 40’s. It’s now we’ll start to see what Generation Y is made of. As a man born in 1983, I’d like to think we’ll be defined about how well we did digging this country out of this horrible mess we’ve been given to clean up and not by our tendencies as young adults. Surely boomers would rather not be defined as who they were as young adults.

    It’s about time we ALL took responsibility for our mistakes and stopped blaming everyone around us. Please quit telling us we’re the worst generation known to man when we’re just getting started. If we’re so horrible and entitled it’s about time the people that raised us took a hard look in the mirror. Nobody is without responsibility for this mess.

  • Harold Eugene Quillin

    ” Among other things, we thought it would foster liberal and democratic values worldwide. That’s why we funded the Marshall Plan and created the UN, IMF, World Bank, Bretton Woods, etc.” My history teach said flat out it was to build some strength to match the Russians. have fun q