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
"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.