Friday, June 04, 2004

Peggy Noonan on Today's College Graduates

It's commencement season, readers (all 3 of you, lol!), and Peggy Noonan takes an optimistic yet measured look at the next generation in today's online Opinion Journal:
Big Mike, No Message: Sizing up college grads, secular Europeans, antismoking zealots and John Kerry.

In this first portion of the piece, she remarks how struck she is by the number of young Ivy League graduates planning to go into television and journalism. What concerns her is their desire to be communicators, when they are unable to convey just what it is they want to communicate.

A short aside before you click on the link ... Peggy is an amazing writer, probably the best speech writer in the business (she wrote one of Ronald Reagan's most eloquent speeches - the one he delivered at the eulogy for the space shuttle Challenger astronauts), but she can sometimes wax a bit loony, as she does here when she writes: "I have been paying attention to the graduates of Ivy League universities. Every one I see the past few weeks is beautiful. They are tall and handsome and gay-spirited; they are strong and laughing and bright." Sometimes you have to take the goofy with the great, and her stuff is often times the latter:

I see no sign they are going to start thinking anything truly unusual for their time and generation--that religious conversion can be a wholly beneficial and life changing event, for instance, or that breaking with liberal orthodoxy might be the beginning of wisdom.

It must leave them finding it a challenge to speak of their beliefs in an interesting way. They often seem to fall back on attitude--wit, irony, poking fun at the thick-witted--in place of sustained thought, or meaning. And still they want to communicate for a living. I think of this problem as "big mike, no message." They are trained in the finest points of communication, but when they turn on the microphone, they have nothing serious to say.

I'd be interested to know if you are in agreement with her general sentiment, as I am.

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