trates one more thing we have in common:rnneither of us has been elected tornanything. So what the heck—bring onrnthe New York Times.rnOn second thought, never mind. Arncloser look at our respective backgroundsrnreveals at least one important differencernbetween me and Mrs. Clinton: she has arngenerational identity. My birth year wasrn1944, meaning that I am technically toornold (every cloud) to be a baby boomerrn(has a silver lining). It’s just as well. Seeingrnas how I am generationally unequippedrnto believe that everyone isrnthinking about me and those who aren’trnshould be, I would be unnerved to seernmy face in Time, appalled to hear myselfrncalled “our mascot,” as boomette writerrnMargaret Carlson once described Mrs.rnClinton, and horrified to know that I wasrnbeing defended by the likes of Eleanorrn”The Screecher” Clift. (However, honestyrndoes require me to admit that Irnwould not say no should the ChicagornChamber of Commerce ever desire tornpublish a booklet called Janet: The EarlyrnYears.)rnThe barrage of coverage surroundingrnHillary Clinton’s birthday was generatedrnlargely by her fellow boomers, who dominaternthe national media. And as usualrnwhen boomers converge, everybody hadrnmore than one agenda. For Mrs. Clintonrnit was a new means to an old end—rnher umpteenth effort at remaking herrnimage, i.e., at gaining enough footing tornprove that . . . well, that she’s right,rndamnit, right about everything! For mediarnboomers, it was an opportunity forrntheir umpteenth affirmation of HillaryrnClinton as a nahonal role model, whichrnshe must become eventually in order tornprove that they, the media, are right,rndamnit, right about everything! This isrnthe hallmark of baby boomers: evenrnwhen the conversation is about you, it’srnabout them. (That way, they never runrnout of something to talk about.) As maddeningrnas this is to normal people, it wasrnfinally worth listening to because thisrnhme, for the first time, there was a newrnquality to the conversation —a slightrnedge of desperation.rnIn its lengthy, earnest, ponderousrnbirthday tribute to Hillar,’ Clinton, Timernran a sidebar in which eight “famous”rnwomen revealed how it feels to be 50.rnGo ahead, guess how it feels. To quoternTime’s headline, it’s “Fabulous . . . RealrnIy” According to novelist Isabel Allende,rnwomen in their 50’s have “wisdom, wernhave a network, we have a sort of secretrnshength. . . . We are not so distracted byrnmotherhood, by being attractive, by thernsexual energy that was there indiscriminately.”rnIndiscriminately? One understandsrnwhy Ms. Allende was chosen tornsupport an article about Hillary Clinton:rnby all appearances, neither woman hasrnever heard the words, “Speak for yourself,rnlady.”rnTime also offered up tennis player BilliernJean King, she, too, full of self-awe. “Irnthink 50 now is what 35 used to be,” shernsaid. “It’s a great age, the best.” {Of allrnthe wonderful Me’s I have ever been, therncurrent Me is the most wonderful!) I amrnwilling to predict that in 15 years, we willrnbe hearing that 65 is what 50 used to be.rnAnd after that, when baby boomers startrndying off, we will be told that they arerndead in a way the world has never seen—rnmore meaningfully dead, more completelyrndead, stronger and more fully realizedrnin their deadness than any whornhave gone before. Fabulous.. . reallylrnJust because 50 is fabulous, yournshould not get the idea that it’s easy. Inrnfact, today’s female boomers have knownrntrials—glass ceilings, sexist jokes—thatrnwould have extinguished lesser spirits.rnMrs. Clinton, quoted in Time: “Perhapsrnit would be easier . . . if we could bernhanded a pattern and cut it out, just asrnour mothers and grandmothers and foremothersrnwere. But that is not the way itrnis today.”rnThat particular observation fromrnAmerica’s foremost contemporary trailblazer,rnpioneer, and earth mama raises arnquestion. Has any group of women everrnbeen dumped on, to such a degree andrnwith such self-confident carelessness, asrnhave the mothers of 60’s feminists (inrnpublic and by their own daughters yet)?rnI don’t know about Hillary Clinton’srn”foremothers,” but mine didn’t havern”patterns,” they had lives—lives so demandingrnand unpredictable that the firstrnlesson of existence was: you are not therncenter of the universe. In turn, this perspectiverngave my foremothers “a sort ofrnsecret strength,” to use Ms. Allende’srnphrase, a strength secret enough not tornbe squandered, but available enough tornclean the clock of any little snot—even arnmiddle-aged little snot—who dared torncondescend to them in the manner ofrnHillary Clinton.rnLet’s get real here. With her dependencernon “ferociously protective aides,”rnher reliance on public opinion polls, herrnexistence in a place her friends callrn”Hillaryland,” and her access to likemindedrnboomer journalists, HillaryrnClinton is, to use the Chicago vernacular,rna candy-ass when compared to justrnabout anybody’s foremothers. Evenrnwhen viewed in the context of her contemporaries,rnMrs. Clinton’s existencernstands in stark contrast to others’, utterlyrnfree as it is of the normal demandsrn(which is not to say the feelings) of femalernlife—cooking, cleaning, shopping,rndriving. I do not begrudge Mrs. Clintonrnher freedoms (there is nothing inherentlyrncharacter-building in cooking, cleaning,rnshopping, and driving), but I do believernshe should seek the grace to admitrnthat she does not live the life of an Everywomanrnand never has.rnEverything written about Hillary Clintonrncontradicts some other thing writtenrnabout her, just as much of what she herselfrnsays contradicts many of her priorrncomments. What this means is that neitherrnshe nor her boomer supporters inrnthe press really know what they thinkrnabout anything. They begin and endrnwith the unquestioned assumption thatrnthey are worth listening to. As a result,rnludicrous statements are made, and idioticrnconclusions drawn, based on no evidencernwhatever. Writer Karen Tumultyrnin Time: “[T]he First Lady will lead arnmajor White House conference onrnChild Care . . . [and] promised to lay outrnthe problem’s complexity with her customaryrnintellectual rigor.” As an examplernof that intellectual rigor, Ms. Tumultyrnoffers this quote from Mrs. Clinton:rn”You have to put the issue in front of thernAmerican people and get them to look atrnit honestly.” The operative words in thatrnstatement are get and honestly. WhatrnHillary Clinton is saying is that, left torntheir own devices, Americans are eitherrnoblivious to important issues or prone tornviewing them dishonestly. They must bernmade to see what is important, then aidedrnin seeing it rightly. Mrs. Clinton’srnconsuming self-righteousness explainsrnthe drag on her political learning curve,rnher intellectual rigor notwithstanding.rnU.S. News reports that “It has taken severalrnyears, but she [now] understandsrnthat many Americans worry about anyrnpowerful White House policy makerrnwho is virtually unaccountable.” Slownessrnon the uptake would appear to bernone of the unforeseen pitfalls of living inrnHillaryland.rnThe intense but incoherent attentionrnof baby boomers—through the lens ofrnHillary Clinton or otherwise—on theirrnarrival at middle age suggests, I believe.rn38/CHRONICLESrnrnrn