There is something creepy about a fiftysomething-year-old man cruising the familiar youth haunts and lurking online at sites the cool kids visit. So Barack Obama’s Tuesday appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show, and the presidential Twitter account following a pictorial display called “Celebrity Sideboob,” is unbecoming of any tail-end Baby Boomer, but especially of one who purports to lead the free world.
Why doesn’t Obama just grow a thin mustache and drive around in a leisure van?
When a graying authority figure preys upon a naïf, he occasionally wins something but in the process of doing so always loses dignity. This is the dilemma facing the president. In 2008, the young vote broke 2-1 for him. Four years later, he needs this fresh-faced constituency to pull the lever for him if he is to win reelection. But capturing such an overwhelming majority of new voters may require humiliating his office. Some kids will do anything to become popular.
The aggressive quest for a second term seems the opposite of a front-porch campaign. Can you imagine Warren Harding, the last front-porcher to win the presidency, sitting on a television goofball’s couch, Tweeting, and auctioning off a dinner with George Clooney?
Barack Obama’s reelection promises a return to abnormalcy.
This is especially true for young Americans, whose hope for a brighter future has been based on tangible historical patterns. Young Americans have always had it better than their parents. This norm is no longer normal.
Almost half of 18 to 24 year-olds do not hold gainful employment. The 54.3 employment rate within the age group is the lowest since the government started compiling such statistics in 1948.
Why has Obama been such a disaster for the age demographic most devoted to him in 2008?
The president has played an unwitting Robin Hood for the gray and wrinkled.
ObamaCare is a generational wealth redistribution scheme that bullies healthy young people to pay the medical bills of unhealthy old people through mandated insurance. Social Security, which the previous administration attempted to partially reorient from young workers investing in old retirees to young workers investing in their own retirements, is again a third rail.
Student debt has reached its highest level in history under Obama, eclipsing $1 trillion. As a salve to his tender-footed base, the president proposes to keep student-loan rates artificially low and to forgive debt after two decades of payments. Both would encourage inflated tuition prices and an expansion of the other albatross hanging round the necks of young people: the national debt.
The president has put America $5.5 trillion further in the red, lost the government’s “AAA” credit rating, and pushed the federal debt-to-GDP ratio past 100 percent. When you are 18, and your president blows the taxpayer’s money more recklessly than your friends run through their dads’ credit cards, then you know that the country is in trouble in a way that your spoiled friends are not.
Obama spends. Young people pay.
In 2008, they hoped for change. In 2012, they have changed their hope.
Obama’s America sees those in the springtime of life wither before they bloom. Big government saddles the rising generation with bills their elders have incurred and stifles an economy in which so many launching careers can’t seem to takeoff.
The president imagines himself as parent-in-chief. A federal summer jobs program, forcing health insurers to cover the 26-year-old “children” of the insured, and various student loan gimmicks are among the ways in which the president envisions wards of their parents becoming wards of the state. But most young people are anxious to leave the nest, not to trade in one nest for another.
Older people inordinately concerned with young people’s affairs often confuse their own interests for the interests of the younger person’s. The various political payoffs to twentysomethings fall into this category. They create dependence among a group normally exalting in their newly-earned independence. The president’s policies toward fledgling adults may be good for his reelection bid; they’re not good for fledgling adults.
Early adulthood is usually the freest time of life, when one neither depends on parents nor provides for dependents. The future is supposed to be at its brightest and most wide open. Instead, it’s as dark and cramped as your mom’s basement.
Hope isn’t what it used to be.