April 27, 2008

If McCain doesn't win, it will mean that no one born in the 1930s will ever have been President.

Did that era not breed leaders?

I had been thinking that if Obama wins, it will mean that we are done with Baby Boomer Presidents, after having only 2 — young Bush and male Clinton. I thought that was rather pathetic for this big, famous generation of mine. There would still be time to pick up another or 2, though. (I know: You're sick of us!)

But to think of the 30s as Presidentless. It's so strange.

AND: The commenters are in rebellion! They say Obama is a boomer. (He was born in 1961.) If he is, I blame the New York Times for this idea that is planted in my head that he has come to put an end the era of the boomers: "Shushing the Baby Boomers."
In taking the first steps toward a presidential candidacy last week, Mr. Obama, who was born in 1961 and considers himself a member of the post-boomer generation, said Americans hungered for “a different kind of politics,” one that moved beyond the tired ideological battles of the 1960s....

Mr. Obama calculates that Americans of all ages are sick of the feuding boomers and ready to turn to the generation that came of age after Vietnam, after the campus culture wars between freaks and straights, and after young people had given up on what ├╝berboomer Hillary Rodham Clinton (who made her own announcement on the Web yesterday) called in a 1969 commencement address a search for “a more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating mode of living.”...

“In the back and forth between Clinton and Gingrich, and in the elections of 2000 and 2004,” he writes, “I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the baby boom generation — a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago — played out on the national stage.”
That Week in Review piece by John M. Broder got a lot of play on the blogs, and it made a big impression on me. Everyone has been talking about the generational shift. Especially Andrew Sullivan.

My fellow Boomers may like to think that the charismatic Senator Obama is one of us. But he's not checking the Baby Boomer box on the presidential application form. I know it's supposed to be all about us, as it always has been, as far as we're concerned. But at some point it's just not.

ALSO: Homodex checks out all the decades going back to George Washington's decade (the 1730s) and discovers that there is one — but only one — other decade before the 1930s that did not produce a President: the 1810s. He also noted that there are 3 decades that have produced 4 Presidents.

45 comments:

George said...

He also moved about 20 times before he was 15, was raised on naval bases, and his father was probably away most of the time.

He was ages five to 10 during WWII—his memories of the period must be intense.

RMc said...

Er, wasn't Obama born in '61? Boomers run from 1946-64, right?

Saul said...

The baby boom ended in 1964. So Obama is a boomer.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm going to do an update on that subject. Hang on a sec.

former law student said...

Part of the cause is the low number of possible candidates. In the 30s, men either didn't have jobs or feared losing the job they had. So single men tended not to marry, and married men tended not to add to the number of mouths they had to feed.

vbspurs said...

I had been thinking of writing a blogpost on this very topic!

The 1930s, especially the late 30s, produced an amazing amount of (beat) poets, writers, renowned actors and actresses, activists, but so far, very few national political leaders.

They have been called the Silent Generation, and I fancy those of us born in the late 1970s will share their fate -- too late to be true Gen Xers, too early to be Millenials.

Of course, all these terms are arbitrary and rather silly.

I think only the Boomers can truly be counted as a generational blanket. From NYC to Paris to Rio and Tokyo, your generation Ann, were extraordinarily cohesive in world experiences.

I am sometimes jealous of that. Mind you, VH-1 has yet to do a "I love the 50s" special. I have buckets of "I love the 80s/90s" to enjoy. :P

Cheers,
Victoria

Middle Class Guy said...

I aqm afirm beleiver in diversity and it is a shame that no one born in the thirties has been president. In order that the presidency represent all of America, I say vote McCain so we can have healing, closure, and diversity. It will also make history.

vbspurs said...

He was ages five to 10 during WWII—his memories of the period must be intense.

George, I highly HIGHLY suggest you and others read "Faith of My Fathers" by McCain.

I'm on page 60 and he's still talking about his grandfather and father, rather than himself. He saw very little of either growing up, as his grandpa died two days after the Japanese surrender was signed, and his dad was a submariner.

I have been struck by how much praise he heaps on his mother, who he said, was the consummate navy wife.

By the way, I was just at a bookstore in Coral Gables a few minutes ago, and didn't see FoMF on the selected books table. Loads of Obama and Hillary, and of course, tonnes of anti-Bush. So I inquired and to my surprise, I was told they had sold out!

Well, when it costs only $15 and anything about Obama averages at twice that, guess what will sell better?

I'm not sure who set the $15 pricetag, but it's only 16.50 on Amazon. Shouldn't the Democratic guy's book be cheaper, thus more accessible to the common man?

Just sayin'.

Cheers,
Victoria

Bob said...

I was born the same year, 1961. I watched the boomers as a kid and a teenager, didn't really take part in their excesses, being too young. I never thought of myself as a boomer, really.

save_the_rustbelt said...

For about four decades leadership (political and business) was dominated by WWII veterans, through Bush 41. McCain fell into a gap between the "greatest" and the boomers.

The two boomers have been duds, in one way or another.

Now we have three lousy candidates, and no way out until 2012.

Swell.

igbalonigbanlo said...

1965 - 1982 -> Generation X

So vbspurs you're a genxer, at least according to wikipedia.

Martin said...

Here's all the presidents by decade:
http://mhollick.typepad.com/homodox_a_blog/2008/04/presidents-by-d.html

vbspurs said...

The two boomers have been duds, in one way or another.

Harsh.

(But rather true, I fancy)

What is curious, don't you think, is that the two Boomer Presidents whose young lives were lived during and defined by the Cold War, had to rule over a world where the polarity of the Cold War was an utter anachronism.

Now we have a throwback candidate who graduated from Annapolis in '58!

Check this out, since 1968:

- Nixon (b. 1913)
- Ford (b. 1913)
- Carter (b. 1924)
- Reagan (b. 1911)
- Bush Sr. (b. 1924)

The two Boomers were duds, perhaps, but I can only point out one truly successful President of the Greatest Generation -- Reagan.

So, don't be too downhearted, Ann.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

So vbspurs you're a genxer, at least according to wikipedia.

Oh yes. But I think the real Gen Xers are the ones born in the LATE 60s/early 70s (like Obama I am sure doesn't self-identify as a Boomer).

In fact, having mentioned VH-1's "I love the 80s" series, sometimes I watch those episodes and I'm utterly lost. I never had a cabbage patch dollie, and I never watched a second of Cheers.

I listened to Bros, LL Cool J, and Nirvana, not Shaun Cassidy, Air Supply, and Prince. :P

Cheers,
Victoria

reader_iam said...

I've personally always referred to the late '50s and the early '60s years of that 1946-1964 as the back-end boomers (being one myself, just a few months older than Obama).

(By the way, anyone else watch that whole speech by Jeremiah Wright at the NAACP? CNN is getting ready to re-run it in its entirety; they're re-running the introductions now.

/OT)

John Z. said...

I like the idea of Generation Jones (even if the name is kind of hokey).

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

CNN is getting ready to re-run it in its entirety;

COOL! Thanks for the heads up, RIA. Unlike the 60 Mins. segment, there is a chance we can catch the repeat of this on CNN.

Soledad O'Brien, who grew up Catholic, is suggesting that the Reverend shouldn't be judged by a "soundbite".

As the offal pastor might put it, NAW NAW NAW NAW.

Here's the full video of the sermon, via Insty.

Disgusting.

Cheers,
Victoria

Chet said...

People born in the 30s grew up with FDR, not Eisenhower

Generation X grew up with Reagan.

reader_iam said...

Ruth Anne: I AM NOT A GEN-X'ER! Right back atcha, girlfriend.

And I think it's a little more complicated than JFK's assassination, either way.

reader_iam said...

Victoria: CNN is very annoyingly insisting on inserting its talking heads at random points in the speech (which, recall, I saw the first time). This is heavily ironic, and on more than one level.

reader_iam said...

My son was born in 2000. He'll never remember 9/11. But who could think he's not a charter member of the 9/11 generation?

Just a thought.

vbspurs said...

This is heavily ironic, and on more than one level.

I had to turn it off, RIA. I literally am creeped out by this Reverend (and the talk-over by the CNN reporters).

BTW, the anchor is none other than Rick Sanchez, formerly of Fox affiliate Miami station, Channel 7. He's about as Republican a news anchor out there on CNN.

But I see he's either been converted, or is toeing the CNN centre-left line, because he sounds very amenable to the rehabilitation of Rev Wright...

Cheers,
Victoria

Beth said...

I don't know that the JFK test is definitive, but it will do, Ruth Anne. I was born in 1961, and have never identified with boomers. I doubt I'm alone in that. I assume those of us from 60-65 are some sort of gap generation. Sonic Youth has a song about it -- Summer of the Drugs (We were too young to be hippies/We missed out on the love/We came into our teen in the late '70s/in the summer of the drugs).

reader_iam said...

I can go with the "gap" concept--it's not a whole lot different than my back-end thing. One way or another, though, I think it's important to account for being alive and experiential in the '60s (obviously, this will vary based on individual circumstance, environment and memory-richness), as opposed to not. Lumping the earliest '60s with the Gen-X'ers seems FAR more wrong to me, on a whole number of fronts. There's a twilight zone there, between the two full-blown categories, which I think needs to be accounted for.

Simon said...

Obama said...
"that Americans hunger[] for a different kind of politics,' one that moved beyond the tired ideological battles of the 1960s...."

Hackneyed nonsense. They want to move beyond those tired ideological battles with their side on top. I.e. they desire to end the culture wars, all right - by winning them. Just like their baby boomer forerunners. It'd provide a fig leaf - at least some dignity for the claim - if Obama supporters could point to a single hot-button subject they'd be willing to "move beyond" by ceding ground. But there is none. Even though gay marriage, for example, was dragged onto the national scene by liberals, the compromise that Obama supporters propose to allow us to "move past" this issue is... Gay marriage in every state! Magic. The rhetoric of these people is unbearably dishonest. They're selling fabrication, misrepresentation, and cowardice as a new kind of politics. Sounds like the same old stuff to me. Bah.

Memo to the Obama campaign: Just because the baby boomers care about an issue doesn't mean that the issue isn't important, you self-righteous pricks.

MadisonMan said...

As a child of late 1960, I concur with the gap generation concept. As long as it doesn't mean I have to shop at the Gap.

Ann Althouse said...

The basic idea of the boom is that WW2 ended, and people all started families at once. Should be closer to the end of the war to be within that effect. 1961 ... people were just having babies. How was the end of the war still anything?

Simon said...

reader_iam said...
"My son was born in 2000. He'll never remember 9/11. But who could think he's not a charter member of the 9/11 generation? Just a thought."

It's hard to explain history to people who didn't live it. My stepson's 14, and when he read 1984, it was just incomprehensible to him. He didn't experience the cold war, he has no direct memory of the Iron Curtain, and the type of society depicted in that book is just beyond his imagination. It occurred to me recently that he never saw the Berlin Wall come down; I have that memory even if I didn't understand what was happening at the time, so there's resonance, harmonics if you will, that memory adds to history that he'll lack.

amba said...

No, Obama is a Joneser. Haven't you heard about this? The poor guy who invented the concept of "Generation Jones" has been flogging it for years, and it seems reluctant to catch on. But the idea that, not having an identity of their own, they were boomer wannabes could help to explain why Obama might have been grazed by the brush of radicalism.

amba said...

he never saw the Berlin Wall come down; I have that memory even if I didn't understand what was happening at the time

Jeez, I remember when the Berlin wall went up. In fact I was there on its first anniversary, on a high school trip led by my German teacher. It made a stunning impression on me -- bouquets on the street in front of bricked-up houses where people had jumped to their deaths rather than be walled in. It might have had some influence on the fact that I ended up with an escapee from Stalin. It reminds me that after the Wall came down I always kinda wanted a little piece of it. One of the bewildering things about the end of communism was how quickly and totally it vanished, after being a major obsession and destructive force for 70 years. It always seemed a bit of an indignity to me that this thing that had rolled over and totally destroyed the world my husband grew up in had itself then sort of gone *poof* and vanished like an evil spell.

Listen to me rambling like an old fart.

Dave said...

I'm an early Boomer (Feb 47) and I have a sister who was born in Feb 60. She is very much a Boomer, as are her friends who were born in 60 and 61 who had (somewhat) older siblings. Her friends who were the first-born in their families and were born in 1960 and later are really not Boomers in some real sense.

I don't think it's only your birthday, it's your familial surroundings.

Ralph said...

The reason the boomer cut off is 1964 is because births and birth rates dropped off in 1965. See Chart

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

My stepson's 14,

My God! You're just 14 years older than he is. My mother is but 19 years older than I, and we're so close because of that.

She's a classic Boomer though. She's a lot like Ann, in fact.

She even likes the Clintons despite the fact that since 2001, she has leaned Right all the way (she also has the distinction of having voting for each successful aspirant to the US presidency, since her naturalisation. Note to betting Althouse readers -- she's intending to vote for McCain...).

and when he read 1984, it was just incomprehensible to him. He didn't experience the cold war, he has no direct memory of the Iron Curtain, and the type of society depicted in that book is just beyond his imagination.

I would usually bite my tongue than to suggest anyone to go there, but just take him to Cuba, or to North Korea and his imagination will receive quite a fillip.

Cheers,
Victoria

Beth said...

Last week I made 48. Apparently, in a Jack Bennyesque attempt to turn back the clock, I typo'd my birth year -- 1960, not 1961.

Does referencing Jack Benny make me a boomer?

Does thinking Battlestar Galactica when I hear "Boomer" cancel that out?

former law student said...

The basic idea of the boom is that WW2 ended, and people all started families at once. Should be closer to the end of the war to be within that effect. 1961 ... people were just having babies. How was the end of the war still anything?

Not everyone who served in WWII got married when they demobilized. Some hadn't met a partner yet; some had but were saving for a wedding/house/furniture. Others took advantage of the G.I. Bill to get a college education -- this, rather than the 60s, was the first time that college seemed like a possibility to a wide cross-section of the country.

The 50s were an explosion of fecundity in my town, especially the Irish-surnamed families. Some even had the dreaded "Irish twins," where two siblings were born in the same year, from separate pregnancies. This continued till the early 60s. A friend of mine, from a family of 8, married a girl from a family of 9. Knowing arithmetic as I did I warned him, "Nine plus eight makes seventeen," but they stopped at two.

But how to house all those kids? Starting with a three-bedroom, one-bath, his father had extended the house in three dimensions; adding on to the front and back of the house, adding an upper story, and even excavating underneath. Walking through the basement we passed through a cylindrical room that had been a septic tank in those dear old, pre-mains water and sewerage days.

vbspurs said...

Belated Happy Birthday, Miss Elizbeth!!

Does referencing Jack Benny make me a boomer?

Does thinking Battlestar Galactica when I hear "Boomer" cancel that out?


LOLOL.

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

We've got a half-dozen more elections where Boomers can run.

Sigh.

Does thinking Battlestar Galactica when I hear "Boomer" cancel that out?

Only if it's the '70s version....

Beth said...

oh blake, how can you be unmoved by the beauty of Grace Park?

politico08 said...

Yeah, Obama is definitley a Joneser, and that matters in understanding this election. Numerous major media outlets, including The New York Times, NBC, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek Magazine, have all concluded in recent weeks, that Obama is specifically part of Generation Jones. I also recently heard a panel of generational experts on a radio program discuss this specific question for around an hour, and they overwhelmingly concluded that Obama is a GenJoneser, not a Boomer nor Xer. This isn't surprising, given that Obama was born in the middle of the GenJones birth years, and those born toward the middle of a generation tend to most personify it. As experts have shown, Barack's bio and political worldview is quintessential GenJones.

howzerdo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
howzerdo said...

I have always heard that the demographics for the boom were 1946-1964.

I agree with Dave. I was born in 1961. I have siblings who were born in 1949, 1952, 1954 and 1957. My parents were kids during the Depression and my father is a WWII veteran. My school was very overcrowded.

As a result, I always considered myself a boomer, although from the tail end of the boom, with important differences in world view. We were more influenced by the 1970s than the 1960s.

I have friends from school who wre born the same year as I was, with 1950s parents, who were the oldest children in their families rather than the youngest, and they never identified with the baby boom generation.

jeff said...

I was born in '61 and always assumed I was a boomer due to basic math. OTOH, if this is something that we can self identify, I never thought really thought I was a very good boomer, but I also know I was not generation X. Is there something in the middle?

blake said...

oh blake, how can you be unmoved by the beauty of Grace Park?

Actually, it has to do with a lot of Boomers watching TV now where they were at discos when the original series was on. So a good "Boomer" test is whether you saw the original.

True story: If someone asked me "When did you first you realize you were a heterosexual," I would have to say that it was when I was in first grade, six years old, and I saw this beautiful second grade Korean girl. (Asian children are beautiful; I thought so then, I think so now.)

Her name? Grace Park.

Not the same one, alas, I did check. It's sort of the "Mary Jones" of Koreans.