Over at The American Conservative Blog, Clark Stooksbury takes Mathew Continetti to task for suggesting that a Crisis in American Authority can be traced to Bill Clinton. I couldn't resist laying out my theory of Ghost Adult Syndrome there as a comment to wit:
My take on the crisis of authority is a generational one. We are firmly in the grip of my fellow Baby Boomers. As such, we are immersed in a mind set peculiar to those raised largely by television sets. We Boomers were such a large cohort of children that instead of being assimilated into the world of work and responsibility as individual youngsters, eager to mature, we could choose to never quite grow up. And most didn't.
This curious fact leads to the phenomena I call the Ghost Adult Syndrome. I believe that most of the people of my generation unconsciously think that somewhere behind the scenes, there are still adults who are responsible for cleaning up our follies and establishing order. Of course when things go badly it is they who are at fault not ourselves. After all they were there when we experimented with drugs, and again when we shirked our responsibilities, and dropped out, etc. No matter what we did we were welcomed back into the fold. We could rebel in the knowledge that we would inherit never the less. This is what makes it possible for us to resent authority while wielding authority.
The great but unlikely villain in all this is Walt Disney. Kindly old Walt tried to raise us while our parents were off to work, but in the end he just filled our little brains with fantasy, unbounded entitlement and sentimentality. We were the Generation of Tomorrow, with a bright future and limitless horizons. Walt never realized that by convincing us that anything was possible, he was also telling us that nothing is really necessary.
So here we are, alone in the Land of Tomorrow. It's not cool to judge each other when the monorail is late or the rocket ship doesn't lift off, it's the adults fault. We couldn't hold Bill Clinton to account because he's one of us, a real cool dude.
Perhaps I should expand on this.