Many a card-carrying member of the baby boom generation (we have no control over when we’re born) have come to realize that the last two presidents — Bubba and W., boomers both — have been disappointments — albiet in different ways. Because of the less-than-dynamic duo, there will likely never be another boomer president (hold your applause to the end, please.) Hillary Clinton, born in 1948, was our last hope to salvage at least one presidency from the boomer generation that’s still scorned in many circles for its frivolous idealism.
Baby boomer years are usually marked from 1946 to 1964, but the cut off date is probably more like Nov. 22, 1963, the day JFK was wasted in Dallas. Technically, Barack Obama falls into that 17-year span, having been born in 1961. But he gets a pass because by the time the idealistic 1960s started its steady fall from grace itwas 1968 and the assassination of another Kennedy, Bobby. Obama was in grade school. As for the other candidates in the race, Sarah Palin, born in 1964, is home free. Joe Biden was a World War II baby, born in 1942. He was more “Rock Around the Clock” than “The Times They are A-Changin’ .” And John McCain — forget about it — was a Depression-era baby born in 1936. He was more Dust Bowl than first Super Bowl in 1967.
But back to the last 16 years of boomer presidents. The failures of George W. Bush are legion — in fact, they are still being written. From Iraq to Katrina to the financial meltdown. He’s so unpopular, his own party is shunning him while he’s still in office. Don’t bother showing up in person at the convention, Mr. President, we’ve got this big jumbo screen set up — bigger than the one you watch baseball on in the White House. W. fits the stereotype of the kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth whose daddy got him out of going to Vietnam. Affluence is the ultimate deferrment. W. was too chicken to fight for his country in an unpopular war, but a hawk at getting his country into an unpopular war. Take that, give peace a chance.
Bill Clinton, another coward who managed to avoid the draft, is nevertheless enjoying a renaissance of hindsight being 20-20 — due to the fact that while he was president he was smart enough to realize it’s the economy, stupid. But Bubba gives credence to anti-boomerists that, for the most part, have succeeded by calling our generation selfish and narcissistic.Their argument: We had everything handed down to us by the greatest generation and we were unforgiving for it.While he was president, the House couldn’t forgive Clinton forhis loose morals and impeached him (which was outrageous) like the White House was a commune from 1969.In history books 50 years from now, W. will be pictured alongsidethose planes crashing into the Twin Towers on 9-11. Clinton will have a photo of Monica Lewinsky picturedalongside him. One president couldn’t get pastwar that was part of hisgeneration, and the other couldn’t shake free love.
This year it wasin Hillary’s hands to bring distinction to her generation, but she let it slip through herfingers. Another missed opportunity from a generation whose own worst enemy may have been itself.
So the torch hasn’t so much been passed to a new generation, but rather to a kid brother who was wise enough to learn from our mistakes. Of the many newspapers across the country that have endorsed Obama, one was especially insightful. It wasn’t from the pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post, but rather from an unexpected publication: The Montgomery, Alabama Advertiser. That paper stated that Obama is “the first major party candidate for president whose understanding of the world is not molded by the Cold War or the Vietnam experience.” Some will look at that and say it’s further proof that he’s naive. Others will look at it and see a fresh perspective — a once in a generation candidate who is somewhat of a risk, but who at least epitomizes what’s possible as to what has already been proven not to have worked.
One week out from election day, the smart money is on Obama. You don’t have to be a baby boomer to know it means that we have to bank on the fact we won’t get fooled again.