How many boomers remember the good old days?

Our generation has been around long enough to see sea-changes in society. Usually of course, that means sea-changes in technology. But as BoomerCafé co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs writes in this Boomer Opinion piece, it seems equally clear these days about politics.

Do you remember the good old days?

The good old days, when a president dignified his office rather than degrading it.

The good old days, when a president got his guidance — even if gravely flawed — from seasoned advisors and congressional pros and contemplative think tanks, rather than rabble-rousing commentators on a right-wing television network for which ratings are a richer reward than responsibility.

President John F. Kennedy, a leader who inspired many baby boomers.

The good old days, when a president went to war — a diplomatic war, an economic war, a military war — by shooting through a carefully aligned gunsight rather than shooting from the hip. And when he seemed to understand that if you shoot at somebody, they’re going to shoot back, rather than assuming that a trade war won’t draw return fire and hurt our side as much as theirs.

I covered half-a-dozen presidents like that over the years, and would take any one of them back in a heartbeat.

Do you remember the good old days when a president would do his best to steady a staggering stock market in which tens of millions of his countrymen have their nest eggs, rather than impulsively imploding it to animate an ill-conceived campaign slogan or, even worse, to vent his personal pique?

Greg Dobbs

The good old days, when a president endeavored to ensure that our environment would be ever clearer, ever cleaner, ever safer, rather than working to pulverize the protections that had been years, even decades, in the making.

The good old days, when a president would condemn and expel from his circle anyone who maligned schoolchildren who had just been through a murderous hell, rather than staying mum about his own supporters’ reprehensible rhetoric.

I fear that some politicians today with their sights on higher office — both Right and Left — have seen the success of the new politics, and will try to build upon it, rather than tear it down and put its pieces in the dustbin of history, where they belong.

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Do you remember the good old days when a president put America on a perch alongside our foreign friends to preserve our power and prestige around the globe, rather than indiscriminately asserting “America First” at our friends’ expense, trashing long-productive relationships that got us there in the first place?

The good old days, when a president understood that America’s values are best purveyed by commanding the world’s respect, rather than just commandeering the world’s attention, which is borne more of distress than deference.

Left to right: Presidents Reagan, Ford, Carter and Nixon.

The good old days, when a president publicly praised our allies and pummeled our adversaries, rather than pummeling our allies and praising our adversaries.

I reported from some 80 countries over the years where, at one level or another, our nation was seen as a model to admire, if not actually emulate. It will be a long time, if ever, before we are seen that way again.

Do you remember the good old days when a president promulgated a policy and gave the American people time to ponder it, rather than putting out positions and pronouncements at the ratta-tat-tat speed of machine gun fire so that the citizens don’t have much more than a moment to absorb and appraise it?

The good old days, when a president might throw a bunch of balls into the air but have at least a nominal notion of where they will fall and who they will hurt, rather than tossing them up with no more precision than it takes to punch out a single juvenilely-written tweet.

The good old days when a president who made a pledge — about, say, saving young immigrants, or sensibly restricting guns— actually kept his word, or at least tried, rather than shifting his positions from day to day and sometimes hour to hour, depending on the last hardline lackey to whisper in his ear.

I voted for presidents like that, and dread the time that will pass and the damage that will be done before I can vote for one again.

Do you remember the good old days when a president made the most of the diversity we enjoy in our great nation, rather than making mincemeat of it?

The good old days, when a president learned what a president can only learn once he actually occupies the Oval Office and grows in the job, rather than one who thinks he knows it all before he ever gets there.

President Kennedy led America into a space program and negotiated nuclear disarmament.

The good old days, when a president gave us at least a peek at his personal finances so we’d know how, if at all, they affect his political decisions, rather than imperiously ignoring that norm and arrogantly refusing to share those finances with the people he supposedly serves.

Having covered my share of news conferences with presidents, I can’t quite believe that the media doesn’t press this president more on these failings.

Do you remember the good old days, when our president was elected by a majority of the American people, rather than just a majority of the Electoral College?

The good old days, when we expected a president to lie some of the time for political expediency, rather than most of the time for personal expediency.

The good old days, when the most egregious of a president’s lies led to courageous calls for impeachment, rather than sycophantic spells of silence.

I remember those days. It’s still hard to believe that they are gone. I yearn for them again.

Pre-order Greg‘s audiobook, Life in the Wrong Lane, which he narrates, about the wacky life of a foreign correspondent.

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10 Comments

  1. We all yearn for the good old days, including us, over here, on the other side of the pond. Europeans are feeling particularly hurt, and many are angry at Trump. And a lot more think he’s “losing it”.

    It’s hard to find any Europeans these days who support Trump, at least here in Italy, though I suspect he has many friends in all the “illiberal democracies”, starting with Hungary, Poland and of course Russia.

    But I find it uplifting and encouraging to read a piece like yours coming from an American. It’s good to know that not all Americans are like Trump and Trump supporters!

    Maybe the good old days will come back – if we all work at it so that they do come back! And vote for the right people. There are still some good politicians out there!

  2. I don’t think the ‘good old days’ were all good. Nothing is all good. But what we have today politically is disgusting and frightening. We are all down the ‘rabbit hole’ with a mad man. And the veep just stands there staring at the back of the mad man with a strange look on his face. God help us all.

  3. Don’t you understand? It’s decades of political world wars, the First WW, CAME just after the Fed. Bank was formed and the US allied with the USSR, communist, not Russia! Russia had and has a Christian government. The NWO, didn’t work, then and not working now! The USA, dosent need polititions, it needs a business man! To dig us out of this mess and it will not be pretty, yet. My wife and I think t may be to late and hope we still have a chance to dig out, before another, WW ! III, has already started….this has never been a democracy…its, TO THE REPUBLIC, FOR WHICH IT STANDS…never said in public schools today. Ever wonder why? A republic has rules, while a democracy, is only, three wolves and a sheep, voting for …what’s for dinner! You don’t know me, but you will! Giles Macqueen

  4. Yes, we do yearn for the good old days when the President was respectful and respected. As a former tv news director, I also yearn for the good old days in a newsroom free from corporate influence. I am of the opinion that what we are seeing today with Sinclair Broadcasting started in the early 70’s when local stations started blurring the line between news and advertising when political ads were allowed within the news “window”.

    This was followed by the influx of “news consultants” all selling a “brand” or style that might have worked in one market so it must work in your market. Station owners became more concerned with the new found opportunity to make big money than meeting their obligation to serve in the public interest.

    Remember those good old days when the networks covered the national news and the local stations focused on their particular market.

    Those same good old days when we trusted Cronkite, Huntley, and Brinkley. Who are we to believe today?

    What about the government spokespeople? They are hucksters not seasoned journalists like Sallinger, Speaks or Moyers.

    I appreciate what you are your colleagues are doing with the Boomer Cafe and find it refreshing. Too bad you don’t have a seat in the White House Press Corps today.

  5. You have the podium, Greg, and you’re ‘using it.’ But I don’t know how fairly. I would argue that boomers are almost equally divided, as is the nation. But you might not think so based on some of the posts here and the responses. Could it be that some boomers might not feel welcome to express their views based on much of what is featured? I love the site and the concept, but find it slanted to the left.

    I get it; like a lot of Americans, maybe half, you voted for Clinton. And you’re not happy with our current president. And I, like a lot of Americans, did not care for Obama and voted against him. But we had to accept the result and work hard for a different one next election. But too many people on the Left seem unwilling or unable to accept an election defeat. And it’s tearing the country apart.

    Allow me to point out just a few nits I have with your commentary:

    “The good old days, when a president dignified his office rather than degrading it.” Those days would be before Bill Clinton had Monica Lewinski on her knees under his desk, I suppose. Actually, JFK and LBJ were big time ‘womanizers,’ for lack of a better term. Only difference between then and now is that the media ignored their carrying on.

    “The good old days, when a president went to war…” C’mon. Back in those ‘good old days’ there was lots of consulting with somber, suited Senators and wise men all during that quagmire, Vietnam. Good days? Good counsel? I’m not so sure. We’ve never recovered from it. And, we are not currently at war.

    “… the good old days when a president put America on a perch alongside our foreign friends to preserve our power and prestige around the globe, rather than indiscriminately asserting “America First” …” What did these ‘good old days,’ I would say, the last thirty, get us, other than our manufacturing infrastructure ripped out and sent overseas, replaced with low wage ‘service’ jobs selling Made in China/Japan/Vietnam/Etcetera goods? And… Americans, too many of them, that can only afford to shop at Wallmart and buy foreign made goods.

    “…our nation was seen as a model to admire, if not actually emulate. It will be a long time, if ever, before we are seen that way again.” Perhaps, and perhaps our nation was seen as foolish, drunk on our former power, and willing to sell out our middle class for the benefit of the investor class both here and overseas? And our nation was seen as having, yes, the best leaders that money can buy, and they bought them, in return for trade agreements that benefited them and not the American middle class.

    I could take issue with many of your other points, but what’s the point?

    All I can say is that we have a system, under that system we had an election, the people chose, and we have to move on. All this Trump-is-a-crazy-man and end-of-the-world angst is not going to help us move forward.

    I hope you will allow me to have my say.

    Best!

    1. You’re right, Paul. Greg has his “bully pulpit” and he is using it. In his defense, he is publishing it under the “Boomer Opinion” section of the page. But, no mistake, he is advocating an opinion, not reporting the news in a “fair and balanced” manner. I think part of the problem is that as a former reporter, we expect him to be fair and balanced in his commentaries. And we are mistaken.

      1. Ria, nobody. I asked Greg in my post if he would allow me to ‘post it,’ and he graciously did. He even PM’d me and said that his post was opinion, his, and I was welcome to post my opinion in my response, which I did. Greg and I are okay with each other. I’m liking the site for the fact that the folks here seem to be sensitive and respectful to others. No name calling or the like. Best!

  6. Isn’t it great that in this time of turmoil we are here, and are allowed to speak our minds? I feel grateful for that. Whether we think the current administration is led by a mad man or a ‘business’ hero, it’s important that we are allowed to ‘freely’ speak out good or bad. If the day comes that we’re not allowed to speak out about any administration, then we are doomed for sure.

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