Sep 30, 2010

Wolff: politicians are babies, stepping over generations

Politicians are infantile. They want what they want when they want it. They lack all seriousness and meaning. It's become a profession for the callow, jejune, and wet behind the ears, says Michael Wolff.

In the UK, there are the Miliband brothers, David and Ed. Both brothers -- who, by all reports, have been particularly close -- held senior positions in the last Labour government. After the defeat of Gordon Brown, and his resignation as party leader, each Miliband brother decided he ought to be leader. David, at 45, the older of the two, and in government longer, was supposed to have the edge. Ed, at 41, was the upstart. It does seem obvious: We shouldn’t vote for anybody who would run against his own brother. No doubt this is what at least David, the frontrunner, thought about Ed. Ed judged it to be about opportunity, which he feared might not knock again. And it was. He won. He seized the day. Arguably, his brother's. It is worth mentioning the age issue. Politicians are getting younger. They are in their 40s. A generation younger than politicians used to be, 60 being the age of gravitas and maturity. You would think, given lengthening life expectancy, politicians would get older -- the new 60 should be 75 -- instead of the other way around. Think about how much longer we might be stuck with these people -- these same faces. The Miliband brothers seem very much like children (the UK has a particular problem in this regard -- almost a missing generation: David Cameron is 42; his chancellor, George Osborne, is 39). Likewise, Barack Obama seems hopelessly green. Sarah Palin is an adolescent. Politicians are infantile. They want what they want when they want it. They lack all seriousness and meaning. It's become a profession for the callow, jejune, and wet behind the ears. (It is the Michael Bloomberg advantage. He sometimes seems like the only adult in politics.) Character is the issue. It is so serious a cause, that now even the characterless -- this new crop of unformed and untested outsiders -- have seized on it, creating an ever-widening circle of the featherless and feckless, and of people whose justification for wanting power is that they could take it. We seem to lack the most basic standards of eligibility. We need some basic tenets: You shouldn’t step over your own mother or run against your brother, for starters. This article first appeared on

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6 thoughts on “Wolff: politicians are babies, stepping over generations

  1. Jackol

    What a pointless article.

    It starts by making a point of age – that 40ish is somehow young and/or callow. (Pitt the Younger anyone? I actually think that ‘Politicians are getting younger’ may not be true at all; Wolff brings no facts or evidence to support his assertion).

    Then the article brings in the family dimension, which is stated as ‘it seems obvious’ when in fact it is nothing of the sort.

    It tries to summarize that ‘Character is the issue’. Well, if character is the issue, what does age have to do with it? What does ones’ familial relationship have to do with it?

    The assumption seems to be that no one of good character would compete with his brother. Very odd. I can only assume this says a lot more about Mr Wolff’s insecurities about age and family than it does about politicians.

    I’m certainly not disputing that the current crop of politicians in Australia, the UK and the US leave a lot to be desired. I dispute that it has anything to do with their age or whether they compete with their brothers…

  2. jaywhar

    Putting Obama and Palin on the same boat, presumably based on their age, seems incredibly short sighted. Even the most cursory examination of their backgrounds and intellectual output would give pause to any reasonable person attempting to do so.

    Obama’s what – 49? At what point would he acquire ‘character’? 50? 53?

  3. paddy

    I’d have to agree with JACKOL. This article seems like an extremely pointless waste of electrons.

  4. kebab shop pizza

    What a load of old cobblers.

  5. zut alors

    You know the expression ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes!’ – well, that’s how I feel having read this.

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