Thursday, July 17, 2014


Apologies for the All-CAPS headline, but dammit I've been looking for a link to this thing for years.  I've really been trying to find it when I wrote my Presidential Character review of Bill Clinton last year.  As a librarian I revel in the success of finding a research item...

Lemme explain.  I wanted to make a point about Bill Clinton being an Active-Positive based on a character analysis on him talking about "future imperatives" and how America was a nation that looked forward by setting up goals that would benefit future generations and not the current one(s).  The article itself was really going into how the Baby Boomer generation - sans Clinton, who accepted the "future imperative" - was the horrific exception, the generation obsessed with its own needs and doing nothing to set up any "imperatives" for future kin.

Problem was I couldn't find the article, which I knew was at least archived somewhere: it was either an online article I saw in Salon or else in a magazine with political/current cultural focus like Rolling Stone or Esquire.  As a librarian who prides meself on finding anything, being unable to find this was frustrating.

This morning, doing some side work researching another matter, I decided to retry my search terms to focus more on the Baby Boomers and how they were destroying everything on the political landscape.  THAT'S when I got a search result to a New York Times 2012 op-ed called "The Entitled Generation".  And THAT referred to the article I was looking for!

The article by Paul Begala was in Esquire (I knew it was one of those) published April 2000 titled "The Worst Generation".  Finally.  At last.  I'll need to update that Clinton review now.

As for the reason I wasn't finding that article before: well, my bad, I mis-remembered the phrase.  It wasn't "future imperative" it was "future preference":

...It is my contention that the single greatest sin a generation can commit is the sin of selfishness. And it's from this standard that I draw my harsh conclusion. I'm not alone in this view, of course. The Boomer in Chief, my former boss, Bill Clinton, used to tell me about an influential professor he'd had at Georgetown. His name was Carroll Quigley, and he taught young Bill Clinton and hundreds of other Hoyas about something called the Future Preference.
I can still see Clinton doing his Quigley impression, eyes full of mischief, his voice an Arkansas version of a bad Boston accent, as we bounced around in a bus or flew through a thunderstorm on Air Elvis, our campaign plane back in 1992. "Mistah Begahhla," he'd intone as he looked at me through the bifocals perched on the end of his nose. "Why is America the greatest sociiiiiiety in human hist'ree? The Few-chah Pref'rence. At every critical junk-chaah, we have prefuhhed the few-chah to the present. That is why immigrants left the old waaahld for the new. That is why paahrents such as yours sacrifice to send their children to univehhsities like this wan. The American ideal is that the few-chah can be bettah than the paahst, and that each of us has a personal, moral obligation to make it so..."

Writing it when he did (2000) Begala was setting up his fears about the OTHER Baby Boomer threatening to become the next President, Bush the Lesser.  Whose administration did ignore the future in the obsessions of satisfying present needs (massive tax cuts even after being warned of the massive deficits that would happen, a bloated Medicare package left unfunded) and in the recklessness of starting fights (a war in Iraq) without a care (there was no Plan B) about how to resolve such fights so that our future (the poor kids sent in to fight that war) wouldn't have to fight it again...

So that's it.  That was the keyword I should have been looking for.  Future Preference.  It's something we should be looking for in our political leaders from now on.  I've added it to my Labels.  Hashtagging it on Twitter asap.

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