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Herbert Croly and Walter Lippmann Have Been Spinning in Their Graves So Long, They’ve Become Cyclotrons

[ 23 ] October 16, 2012 |

So I get my weekly e-mail update from The New Republic today. The top two featured articles are:

1. Laura Bennett watches an episode of Girls and reads a Tumblr, proceeds to make ridiculously broad generalizations about people in their 20s.

2. Chris Matthews on how John F. Kennedy saved the world from nuclear holocaust, something only JFK could have done through his unique combining of Albert Einstein’s brains with Chip Kelly’s balls in order to create the kind of hypermasculine politician Tweety loves so well.

Might as well have included a racist Marty Peretz editorial, just to raise the discourse a bit.

Comments (23)

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  1. mark f says:

    1. “People in their 20s all have dads who played rhythm on a song you forget you know until you hear it and you’re still not really sure what band it is.”

    2. Isn’t that an old article? Matthews put out a JFK book about a year ago (I actually remember buying it for my aunt last Christmas (lifelong Irish Catholic Democrat from Massachusetts who has become much more progressive thanks to MSNBC so shut it)) that TNR destroyed along similar lines.

  2. You’re really not being fair to Matthews. He lauds Kennedy for pursuing a policy of appeasement – he uses that word, favorably, multiple times – and contrasts him to Dick Cheney, for whom the crisis would have been merely a “test of toughness.” He praises Kennedy for trying to understand the other guy’s motives.

    That was not an ode to a hypermasculine politician.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      For Matthews, combining that hypermasculinity with more intelligence than he believes Cheney has leads to the amazing policy decisions (and decision-making processes) that Matthews wishes from our current presidents.

      • From the piece:

        Fortunately, we did not have a Dick Nixon—or a Dick Cheney—calling the shots, men who for all their mental capability saw such conflicts as that in October of 1962 as tests of toughness, opportunities to act on an existing grievance, or, worse yet, a metaphor for some moral test of who’s right.

        He cites Dick Cheney as someone with high intelligence, and identifies his failure as a consequence of his hypermasculinity.

  3. Jerry Vinokurov says:

    The Emily Koenig story is so stupid. I mean, I wish her the best and everything, but her brother is the frontman of a pretty famous band; it’s not like she dropped out of the sky and got a book deal solely because she had a cute tumblr.

  4. I teach high school in Los Angeles and I keep in touch with many of my former students. All of them are either Latino or African-American. All of them are either what we would call poor or working class. They are all twentysomethings, but none of them are remotely like the people portrayed on Girls or described in that article.

    There really are at least two Americas, probably four or five. But only one of them, a rather small one population-wise, gets to have shows and a constant stream of articles written about them.

    I wonder why that is so.

    • sparks says:

      Narcissism among the liposucked? I am agape.

    • Joshua says:

      TV often makes shit up like that. It’s not like Sex & The City or Friends was realistic in the slightest. Even something like The Wire, rooted in reality obviously, was pretty dramatized for the purposes of TV.

      It’s also not an entire generations’ (or Lena Dunham’s) fault that a bunch of old people think that is how every 20-something live.

      News flash, 25 year olds are self-centered.
      News flash #2, older people try to use their life experience from decades ago as a way to make today’s 25 year olds look bad.

  5. Cambridge Chuck says:

    I think a more careful reading of Bennett’s article would show that she does distinguish between the privileged whiny characters of Girls and its ilk, and the majority of twenty-somethings who are struggling not to “find their identity” but to put food on the table and feed their kid(s).

    • Steve says:

      Sure. And it’s not like the Bennet article is ill-considered or vapid. Not enough to distinguish it from the rest of the white noise out there, anyway.

    • mpowell says:

      Yeah, I thought it was pretty reasonable. I will say this: things might be different with this generation. But not because they’re selfish or they were raised by boomers. But because a good portion of them well spend most of their 20s in dead-end jobs and not developing legitimate career skills because the economy crashed and nobody bothered to fix it in a reasonable time frame. And that might resonate for multiple decades. I’m really curious to see if we’ll finally get unemployment tumbling down under 7% in the next year or so or if the fiscal cliff and other issues will drive us into a double dip recession and a lost decade and a half.

      • Cody says:

        I think the lack of jobs is driving another strong counter-culture movement. People in my age group of just graduating college are valuing an ability to disconnect from society. If I can get internet access, I’m good! Otherwise I need to be able to support myself (with my own food and water) cause it’s pretty obvious those old white assholes would let me starve if given the option between me and a $1.

  6. catclub says:

    I don’t think anything actually spins in a cyclotron. Except for inherent spin of electrons.

    The electrons do also cycle around the apparatus.

    • nosmo king says:

      Actually, electrons are too light to work in cyclotrons IIRC. You need protons or heavier nuclei, like alpha particles. Electrons radiate too much of their energy away in a circular orbit.

      I would think that Lipmann and Croly would, if spun, become dynamos if anything. But not a significant source of electricity on our way to energy independence.

  7. John says:

    1) While Bennett’s article is a bit muddled, it seems to me that one of the main points is to critique people who make broad generalizations about twenty somethings on the basis of Girls and other manifestations of uber-privilege. I wish this was brought out a bit more, but clearly she is commenting at least as much about the discourse about twenty-somethings as about twenty-somethings themselves.

    2) Chris Matthews is a clown, but I don’t see what’s wrong with this piece. In the first place, Kennedy does deserve a lot of credit for his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was very clearly the most dovish person in the room during the discussions of what to do, and it’s rather horrifying to contemplate what would have happened if LBJ had been president in 1962. And, as jfL points out above, Matthews pretty clearly is not praising Kennedy for being hypermasculine with giant balls, but rather, for the reverse – for not seeing the crisis as a chance to prove his manhood.

  8. M. Bouffant says:

    To hell w/ the Kennedys & w/ Matthews & his sad-ass Irish Hyphenated American (Make up your mind, jerk!) Catholicism & worship of others of the same ilk.

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