Bethell tries to explain the differences between President Bush and the conservatives as "generational." He comments: "For some reason--almost certainly the influence of the Depression and World War II--there seem to be very few conservatives of Bush's generation."
As one of Bush's generation, I find Bethell's observation quite interesting.
Bethell also comments that President Reagan spoke for an older conservative generation. The Reagan conservatives of the '80s drew their inspiration from the past--the era of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover. That era of "me-first excess" brought on the Depression and trapped me in a childhood of poverty and the destruction of my father's dreams. The greatest friend the conservatives ever had was President Roosevelt, who gave capitalism some flexibility.
As for the Great Conflagration, it did prove to us the necessity for cooperative action and looking out for each other. It was the last war in which the total nation was mobilized and committed.
By contrast, there has been one characteristic widely used to describe those born since the end of the war: instant gratification. Obviously all do not share this malady. But those who have this malady obviously are good "marks" for the conservative message of individual acquisitiveness which is worshiped. Words like "kinder and gentler" are dismissed by Bethell as those of a weakling.
Just like night follows day, we are heading into another Great Depression as we speak. The Reagan conservatives have put their curse on the economy just like their ideological forebears did 60 years ago.
FLOYD A. OLIVER