One reason pronouncements like [Tom] Brokaw's are so blatantly foolhardy is because great developments in world history can never be chalked up to a single generation. The other fallacy inherent in his argument lies in the fact that different generations accomplish different things at different points in their lives. When the Revolutionary War broke out, Benjamin Franklin was almost seventy, George Washington was in his forties, Thomas Paine was thirty-eight, Thomas Jefferson thirty-two, and Alexander Hamilton was not yet twenty. Which generation gets credit for midwifing the United States? Franklin's for providing its most revered statesman? Washington's for producing the indispensable military leader? Jefferson's for supplying a man capable of doing the important paperwork? Or Hamilton's for figuring out a way to pay the infant republic's bills?
- Joe Queenan