At Ricochet, one of the most provocative posts I’ve seen in a long time, by James Poulos. Poulos notes what he calls the “generational aspect of the President’s [SOTU] address.” Lots there for the elderly; for the young, not so much. Poulos suggests that if we are to select a metaphor from the mid-20th century, Sputnik might not be the most appropriate:
Which generation’s Sputnik moment is this, again? If we’re fated to work with metaphors from the middle of the twentieth century, let’s at least choose one that resonates with people who are coming of age in the twenty-first.
Say, perhaps, the Hitler Finds Out metaphor. From the vantage of the young, for the President — and, indeed, virtually the entire leadership class of the United States of America — this is their Stalingrad moment: the moment at which the vast armies they continue to maneuver around the gigantic battle map turn out to be gone, destroyed, never to return again. The bold challenges, the arbitrary and random numerical goalposts (80% more of these, 100,000 more of those) — it all gave off the disconnected feel of denial-driven fantasy. It’s not that the emperor has no clothes. It’s that he has no divisions.
Young Americans already face a future defined by an inescapable reckoning. They already tend to look at our grand entitlements as phantoms, as dead entitlements walking. They already know the problem isn’t that we have too few college graduates, but that we — like Tunisia and (gasp!) China, to mention a few — have too many for the market to absorb.