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When those of us born in the rough wake of World War II were growing up, many of us divided the world and its rules into those which applied to "adults" and those which we were bound to follow.  In "their" world, for instance, blue jeans (or dungarees) were "play clothes" not to be warn by an adult ever, and by anyone in even the most semi-formal occasion, let alone in a circumstance where one might meet new people.  

As goofy and out of touch as they might be, however, the thing about "adults" which was most essential to our lives was that in a crisis, they knew what to do and if worse came to worse, they would be there for you with an answer (maybe not the right one, but something.)

I am not one hundred percent clear as to when I became an "adult."  I am not even certain, a few years from my sixtieth birthday, whether I am today.   It certainly did not happen when I turned 13, 18, 21 or even 25.  My parents, now in their eighties are still alive and reasonably well which may account for my confusion, but it is not just me who seems confused, much as the Superman played by Dean Cain a decade or so back seemed so much younger than the same character played by George Reeves in my actual childhood.

All of this comes to mind by several public events of the past few weeks.  For instance, no "adult" in their right mind would suggest that, whatever our personal sympathies and wishes are for the Iranian people, that any cause we value would be served by public assertion of an official interest of the government of the United States of America in its outcome.  Those who are unhappy with the government which replaced the one we propped up until the late 1970s need a statement that the United States is fully in support of them, as much as they need heavily armed forces to stop their protests.  

Nobody rationally believes a "we are all Iranians" statement or anything approaching it is a good idea and, were adults still around, one would quietly tell the children who just spout off because it makes them feel good, to be quiet now, while we work all of this out.  Yet, here they are, a genuine war hero, who one might assume to have reached adulthood, Sen. John McCain, Congressman Eric Cantor, all with a variation on Senator McCain's complaint:

I do not believe that the president is taking a leadership [role] that is incumbent upon an American president, which we have throughout modern history, and that is to advocate for human rights and freedom — and free elections are one of those fundamentals

or Congressman Cantor's inane bleat:
:

"We have a moral responsibility to lead in opposition to Iran’s extreme response to peaceful protests. We stand with the people of Iran in their struggle to participate in a democratic election and who deserve the right to freely assemble and voice their opposition to its questionable outcome."

or the resolution enacted by a House Of Representatives that started a war in falsely created panic just a few years ago which, according to its sponsor, Congressman Mike Pencemeans that

As Americans have done throughout our history, this Congress today, on behalf of the American people, has spoken a word of heartfelt support to all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law

.

What is all of this supposed to accomplish except brand people who have not asked for such empty rhetoric the false charge of collaborating with the United States?

Where is the Senator Vandenberg, the Republican from Michigan who inspired Gerald R. Ford into politics, and who, a year before becoming the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee when his party won control of the Senate, explained that "politics stop at the water's edge" so as to give president Truman maximum support while the past war world was being created.

It doesn't really, nor should it in all instances.  But when another country, a potential threat to us and to those we support, is undergoing internal upheaval, the country needs to speak with one carefully modulated voice.  That was true when Iraq invaded Kuwait and it is true today.  Adults, even Henry Kissinger, know this.  

Living in New York, of course, does not put a person in much of a position to bemoan the lack of adults in charge.  We have a Senate in our state which is unable to do business because 31 of them favor one group to lead it, and other 31 favor a different one.  They asked a judge to tell them what to do and after huffing and puffing about how they better solve this problem or he would, decided that, after all he had no authority to tell them what to do.

That put him the same wing of silliness that the Governor is in.  He said he would stand for this before acknowledging there was nothing he could do.  Now he has decided he can make them stay in "special session" after their scheduled adjournment which is supposed to happen on Monday, but, of course, if they cannot agree on how to organize they can do no business.  An essay about some of this was posted here last week (as well as on Daily Kos and TPM), but it did not seem to generate as much national interest as it should.

Maybe the reason I cannot see myself as an adult is because it is to hard to find others who claim that title.  In the meantime, happy Father's Day and, well, teach your children.

Originally posted to Barth on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 09:47 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    Important whining and Red Sox stuff at http://edsbarth.blogspot.com/

    by Barth on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 09:47:58 AM PDT

  •  growing up (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Barth, shann, cloudwatcher

    growing up I always felt by the time I reached the adult world I would discover a vast array of smart people running things.  One of my biggest shocks came to me when I finally realized,  THERE ARE NO SMART PEOPLE RUNNING THINGS.

    The inmates run the asylum.

    (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

    by dark daze on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 10:14:17 AM PDT

  •  Machismo past and present (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zubeck

    What we (older folks) grew up with was a kind of machismo that said if we, individually and as Americans, were "real men" we had to fight at the drop of a hat, get in the face of anyone who disagreed with us, push our way into the lives of others and take over...telling them what was right and wrong and how to live their lives, and "create" situations (like wars) to prove how strong we were even when that misguided idea of strength wasn't even necessary. It's called being a "bully." George W. Bush drew that all together into his own person and turned the USA into an offensive, abrasive, confrontational, irrational, war-mongering, hated nation. Then along comes Obama who doesn't think our way is always the right way for everyone, wants to know what others think before coming to any conclusions, encourages the people other countries to find their own solutions, and is an "adult" who treats others as "equal adults." That seems to scare the shit out of the GOPers who believe that the adolescent bullying of St. George W is the only way (even though they won't use his name now)and that Obama's adult empathetic yet rational approach is weakness and will lead our nation to ruin. As far as adulthood? The leader's of the GOP are stuck in their childish past. A past that got us into all aspects of our current national mess in the first place. Their machismo answer is "do more of the same" only louder and more belligerently. It is time for a lot of very old adolescents to grow up or just move on.

    The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on! -Ted Kennedy

    by cloudwatcher on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 10:44:27 AM PDT

  •  Hey, I'm an adult! (0+ / 0-)

    The IRS told me so.
    So the solution to our problems is to put ME in charge of the whole shebang.

    Serious aside: I wouldn't genuinely wish that on anyone. Besides, I'd get shot within a week.

    Some people are content to create heat. Some people strive to create light. Both are required, but one's focus is a measure of the man.

    by Zubeck on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 11:38:54 AM PDT

  •  The difference between children and adults (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Barth, JG in MD

    is that the latter tend to think about the consequences of their actions more often than the former, and have more experience to draw upon in doing so - nothing more grandiose than that.  There are also different instincts: An adult sacrifices for others, while a child's instincts are more selfish and predatory.  It's important to maintain the ability to feel and see as a child in adulthood, because it's a source of freedom and liveliness, but also to be capable of switching into Bogart mode when the situation calls for you to be in charge.

    "Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend." -Bruce Lee

    by Troubadour on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 11:54:14 AM PDT

    •  I particularly like Troubador's definition.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JG in MD

      ...which really works for me on many levels.  I was not brought up to see things on the my way or else front, but I certainly grew up with people who were.  My heroes were people---grownups---who said things such as

      Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate

      which also works for me, too.

      Important whining and Red Sox stuff at http://edsbarth.blogspot.com/

      by Barth on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 12:14:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's best to be both adult and child at heart. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Barth, JG in MD

        People who are too grown up, or delude themselves that they are, tend to have a bleaker worldview and suffer more greatly from the same stresses.  Of course, people who refuse to grow up at all just make life miserable for everyone around them, and ultimately end up bitter and vicious when they can no longer escape the consequences.  The latter is the motivational origin of most right-wing politics.  

        One of the great things about Barack Obama is that he behaves, and apparently genuinely feels,  simultaneously ancient and boyish.  He is neither a care-worn Stoic nor a back-slapping, tail-chasing creature of unconstrained passion, and yet at the same time is the furthest thing from lukewarm mediocrity.

        "Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend." -Bruce Lee

        by Troubadour on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 12:32:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The problem I have with this "adult"/"child" meme (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Barth

    Is that children are not held fully responsible for their actions, while adults, presumably, are.

    "Maturity" is not really a very good criteria, in terms of accountability, being such a subjective and nebulous term, unless one is deemed so substantially technically, medically psychologically "immature" as to be considered legally unaccountable, in which case they may thus be subject to legal/medical intervention, to protect them, and society, from harm.

    Whether Republicans should be considered "adult" criminals, or should be declared emotionally, psychologically, medically incompetent, and thus perhaps subject to institutionalization, may be a moot point, heh, as long as they are barred from any position requiring accountability.

    Whether they are criminal psychopaths, who just "can't help it", or whether they are just venal, criminal,  greedy swine, doesn't really matter so much, I guess.

    But for an insane, or severely emotionally or psychologically handicapped person, I can feel a certain degree of empathy, or sympathy, or whatever, and maybe cut them a little slack...but we still can't just let them run amok and hurt people, if their actions have proven to be, or indicate that they may be, dangerous.

    I don't really feel much like cutting the Republicans that much slack.

    I think they are way more than mere children who may need a slap on the wrist, a time out, a good lecture, or a little "tough love" .

    The insane asylum?  Maybe, in some cases, indeed.

    But more likely, they probably just need to go to prison, and where appropriate, in the case of murder, for example, especially mass murder, the death penalty might be more appropriate.

    "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

    by Radical def on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 02:31:21 PM PDT

    •  Good points all (0+ / 0-)

      Our side has been guilty of taking positions for political reasons, where nothing really is at stake, but I cannot recall such an instance where the national security of the United States and its allies was at stake.  This damaging language (and, sadly, the inability of the Speaker and the rest of her party to prevent such a potentially dangerous resolution from even reaching the floor) is the product of adults acting as children, for which  none of the reasonable exemptions from responsibility actually apply. If Iranians are punished or worse for participating in demonstrations the Iranian government can claim to have been in furtherance of the command of a house of the United States Congress, will any one of these "children" come to their assistance in any way except by empty words?

      Important whining and Red Sox stuff at http://edsbarth.blogspot.com/

      by Barth on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 02:45:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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