"The Veal-Calf Generation" (Updated)

Your humble correspondent first stumbled across Nibras Kazimi back in January 2007. After my RedState debut with an essay on the historical parallels between Iraq (as it was then) and Guadalcanal (1942- 1943), he found the essay – he really liked it, said so publicly, and we corresponded about it for a bit.

Today, Mr. Kazimi has a new piece out with the seemingly abstract title of “How Does One Plan For Irrationality?” But it lands squarely on the problem that has troubled many of us for nearly a year now – that Senator Obama is a naïve waif who has had precious little contact with the real world, real world difficulties, and the irrational (and brutish) behavior of the world’s bad actors.

(Update is below the fold.)

According to their best laid plans, many of the fresh faces on President Obama’s new foreign policy team seek to restore America’s image abroad back to its former good graces. They believe that by shutting down Gitmo, scurrying out of Iraq, engaging with enemies and saving the whales, then all will be well with the world again, and the awful legacy of George W. Bush will truly be a thing of the past.

On paper, and in power point presentations, all this looks plausible and reassuring -mathematical, well-thought- out and rational. It is policy done by extrapolation and computer models, a very 21st century approach. Obama, the smart and cautious One, will guide them through from one stepping stone to another, until the promised land of goodwill and lasting peace is in sight.

In other words, we’re faced with a swarm of macro-level theorists who have been only babbling at each other – and have never had real contact with messy (and irrational) real-world difficulties.

Later in the piece, Mr. Kazimi pegs Team O with a marvelous moniker:

David Brooks captured something of the truth when he described the post-boomer generation and social caste that Obama belongs to and that propelled him to power, and now crowds around him at the helm. In his far-sighted November 3 column titled ‘A Date with Scarcity’, Brooks warns that a generation that had it too easy will find itself in the uncomfortable situation of dealing with too many variables that don’t make too much sense, like an economy that refuses to resuscitate.

Pundits are scrambling to find a name for this generation – some went as far as to call the younger component of this demographic ‘Generation O’, after Obama – but I lump them all under the moniker of the veal calf generation. They are the new ruling class whose habits and quirks were subversively ridiculed by the book (and website) Stuff White People Like: A soft and self-righteous generation that is likely to find scarcity at home and chaos abroad; a sheltered generation that tested its ideas on fellow wonks at symposia, yet may end up face to face with an unruly and angry mob; one slip-up and the mob will turn. Ivy League smarts don’t work well with mobs, a different kind of smarts, thuggish, instinctual and flexible, may just save one’s life.

As Brooks sees it, the veal calves are not ready. Nothing has prepared them for a world of messiness. And their reaction will be to blame others usually those who came before, and that will be it, for when faced with adversity they will likely wither up , lacking the grit and commitment to follow through.

(Emphasis mine.)

“The veal-calf generation.” That’s just marvelous and spot-on.

Earlier in the year, I was wondering what impression the world’s back actors would be drawing of Senator Obama. My instinctive expectation was that they would figure him out very quickly, and regard him as (to revive a WW2-fighter-pilot expression) “meat on the table.”

Kudos for Mr. Kazimi for doing it all one better.

Oh, yeah – read the whole thing.


Reading the comments, methinks that Mr. Kazimi inadvertently over-extended his metaphor. He makes it clear in the piece (and everyone DID read it, didn’t you?) by implication that he is not referring to a complete “generation” in the sense of being all-encompassing. Unfortunately, the inclusion of the word “generation” gives that impression.

But the metaphor is still a very good one. I would define a “veal calf” as someone with a dire shortage of useful knowledge and useful experience who has developed an ego-inflated-belief that they are wonderful and special and that the world’s intractable difficulties will fall readily before the own magnificence of their own wonderfulness.

Perhaps the most notable “veal calf” on the loose these days is none other than former Vice-President Al Gore. Despite now being 60 years of age, Mr. Gore has absolutely no background (by either education or practice) in anything related to science, technology, mathematics…. or even business. He makes that readily apparent every time he opens his mouth (or emits a column), but this doesn’t seem to register with him. I had more experience in science and math before the end of my undergraduate freshman year, and could provide a more coherent and useful perspective on those things back then than Mr. Gore could provide even now.

And indeed, our young combat veterans are far ahead of Mr. Gore and the “veal calves” in life-knowledge.

That is the most striking feature of Mr. Obama and his minions. Mr. Obama is clearly someone who has had precious little contact with the messy realities of the human condition – and has become arrogant and egocentric because of this. He will soon be learning hard and overdue lessons about these things. Let us just hope (and pray) that the cost to the world of that education will not be too harsh upon us….