The Baby-Boomer generation (heard that phrase much lately?) has now taken over government, along with everything else, and what a spectacle this turn of events provides us. If we use boomer members of the dominant media culture as a model for the generation’s sensibilities, and use the dominant media culture’s reaction to Bill Clinton as a reflection of boomer values, what have we learned during the past year about Bill Clinton, baby boomers, and the dominant media culture? My fellow Americans, we’ve learned that all three need to get a grip.

Baby boomers have been described, by boomers themselves and not without pride, as the most self-obsessed generation in history, the very assertion of which is proof of the claim. One characteristic of self-obsession is psychological projection, and boomers, via their media representatives, projected everything onto an ever-willing, ever-recipient Bill Clinton: their emotional vanity (read sensitivity), their intellectual conceit (read brilliance), and their moral expediency (read realism).

During the presidential campaign, journalists—male journalists—wrote about Bill Clinton like high-schoolers with crushes: limp with infatuation. It was all rather shocking until one realized it wasn’t journalism being practiced here; it was self-worship once removed. It wasn’t enough for the media elite to justify Clinton’s past behavior; they had to elevate it. His draft-dodging was presented as an act of conscience, his adultery as nothing less than proof of emotional honesty. Who, the implied question went, hasn’t committed adultery, or wanted to? Such moral contortions were necessary because they were the only means by which Clinton could be said to possess “character.” And he had to have character, otherwise all the draft-dodging adulterers in the press would be unable to live with themselves.

And on it went. During inaugural week, when Clinton was moved to tears by the likes of Goldie Hawn, nobody questioned his taste, much less his sensitivity threshold. How cool it was that we now had a national leader who knew the words to “We Are the World” and was comfortable ducting with Michael Jackson. (OK, how should a President come across at such moments? He should be unfailingly gracious, slightly uncomfortable, faintly above it all—a good sport. He should not seem at home in the proceedings.) Here at last, we were told, was a President whose choice of personal icons evidenced both a sense of history and the common touch. Clinton’s icons were John Kennedy and Elvis Presley, and no one was quite sure which was the sense-of-history icon and which the common-touch, but what did it matter? It was all so symbolic.

The question now is, how long will the lovefest last? Well, hearts are breaking and minds are changing even as we speak. Media boomers are fickle, and since their investment in Clinton was based on symbolism rather than principle, their inevitable disappointment will engender not a sense of betrayal but—far worse for the self-obsessed—a wave of embarrassment. The boom-booms are in for trouble, but they won’t suffer alone. They will take Bill Clinton down with them. Let us predict how it will happen.

First, they will be furious that they were ever charmed by that dumb saxophone. Then they will discover—as if for the first time, since nothing counts until they believe it—what most folks already know: that intelligence isn’t intellect, intellect isn’t wisdom, and rhetoric isn’t leadership. That words count and habitual verbal hair-splitting is acceptable only in courtrooms. That hypocrisy can be termed pragmatism only so many times. That when everything is symbolic, nothing is real. That emotiveness is emotion on the cheap. They will decide that it is unseemly for a President to be so chronically affectable and tacky for the leader of the free world to have as his desktop slogan “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.” (Yech. Why not “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”?) They will discover, yes, that Clinton has no style, mainly because he has no wit. For all his public affability, he takes himself very seriously, as do the media boomers (what else does self-obsessed mean?), and they will become uneasy with the humorless reflection they see in the White House.

Finally, this great collection of boomer reps will realize where they have seen Bill Clinton before: he’s the guy with the glossy smile and hip haircut who does the local news. Then they’ll say they knew it all along.