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.
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?
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.
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.
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.