NEW HAVEN - The baby boom era in presidential politics began with the election of a burger-craving Rhodes Scholar and his high-achieving wife who promised she wouldn't "stay home and bake cookies."
For the 15 years since then, '60s-bred generational themes have reverberated through public life, from an intensive focus on what candidates did during the Vietnam era, to balancing demands for social changes and resistance to them, and coming to grips with Cold War pieties about American exceptionalism and how they apply to a post-Cold War world.
WE'RE just warmin' up, folks, but we would like to take a moment to note that 1) the oldest Boomers did not become eligible for service in Vietnam until 1965; 1a) John McCain is not a Boomer; 2) this is a "Boomer issue" only to the extent that Clinton's non-service was made an issue in 1992 by the Party of Chickenhawks, that it was revived in 2000 because the apparent hypocrisy of George W. Bush's rich-boy National Guard service turned out to mask something a little more hinky, which, like the rest of his Arbusto-Oil-filled resumé, gained little traction in the public press, while phony attacks on Al Gore's actual service in country were added to his Pathological Liar persona; 3) It was, even students at Yale and Wellesley might recall, once again a matter of a Democratic candidate being slimmed for his (actual, heroic) service in 2004, while that little matter involving George W. was cleared up once some typography experts went to work. 4) If you'd stop chewing on media-bullshit like "Boomer" as if you believed its nourishment could sustain you during a prolonged hibernation, you might be able to think a little more clearly. I'm fucking sorry if later generations had to witness any of that and possibly have their lives ruined by it, or buzzes harshed, but from where I sit it's not a generational issue but an American one, dating to (take your pick) Korea, WWI, The Spanish-American, Mexican, or First Barbary War, the Whisky Rebellion, or the Seven Years' War, and the political slime is largely the product of one side (the one that's held a permanent grudge against the other for being correct about the needless sacrifice of 57,000 men and women, and untold millions of Vietnamese). As my old Art History prof used to put it when people looked at him funny for saying "van HOCCKKK", Excuse me for pronouncing it correctly. As a freedom-loving American I fully support your right to remain plug-ignorant about this, or any other aspect of your history which interferes with Having a Good Time, but as an amateur historian with aspirations of dilettantism, I think I can safely say that most Americans of whatever generation have horribly mistaken, demonstrably false beliefs about the Vietnam War, either through partisan intent or swallowing the mass effort to garble the history in order to avoid the political consequences. I'm sorry that people who understood the lessons of Vietnam and Korea have been proven correct by recent events. If you'd like I'll apologize that all of you haven't been drafted, and thus avoided all that troubling partisanship that comes from your own assmeat being on the line.
Now then, in terms of "balancing demands for social changes and resistance to them", whatever that means, just let us know what side you're on, if you're capable of choosing, and we can return all females to Home Economics and African-Americans to field labor. And as far as "coming to grips with Cold War pieties about American exceptionalism and how they apply to a post-Cold War world," may I suggest that the world as we know it was not created just before you were born? The Cold War was run by men old enough to be my grandfather. I was the kid hiding under the desk in those Duck and Cover films. Actually, that was my older brother. Again, you're welcome to inform yourself of the issues, whenever you tire momentarily of discussing American Idol.
Look, kiddies, I grew up listening to grown men (and no women) arguing over Quemoy and Matsu, fluoridation of water, and whether the small heads of Negroes meant they were only educable up to a point. You get no sympathy from me.
Now, however, polls indicate a strong resistance by younger people to another presidential candidate defined by baby-boomer issues - the same high-achieving wife, whose election as the first woman president would mark the fruition of feminist aspirations born in the '60s. At the same time, young people have provided the base of support for Barack Obama, a 46-year-old candidate who, while technically a baby boomer, represents a clear turning of the page in generational politics.
Like it's the first time sloganeering has replaced substance in a Presidential race. I've got news for you--this crap dates to the introduction of the Wireless.
"If [Hillary] Clinton becomes president and is reelected it would be 24 years of baby boomer presidents and that would be a lot for one generation," said Megan Carey, a Wellesley senior.
OMG! Like, do they still teach history at Wellesley? Or math?
First, if you take a generation to equal 18 years (that's the Boomer demo), and note that somewhere in the back, apparently, the Constitution requires that the President be 35 years of age, (and that the youngest historically was 40), and establishes a term of office of four years, with a two-term limit (+2 years), could you try to explain to me how a potential of 24 years is some remarkable occurrence indicative of selfish political domination? SSINF! Try to figure out how this doesn't occur. Try to figure out when in American history it wasn't true. Too much like work? Okay:
You only need go back to the previous generation: Kennedy to Bush I, seven years difference in age, thirty-two years in office. (Johnson was the oldest President of that era; he was sixteen years older than Bush, and became President by assuming office.)
Here's a little hint: you might look at our youngest Presidents as offering the best examples of Generational Regime Change. That's Clinton, third youngest; we're still suffering from his generation, as you note. Kennedy, second, thirty-two years, as above, and Teddy Roosevelt, youngest President (through succession), who was fifteen years younger than McKinley and not quite twenty-one years younger than Grover Cleveland. TR's generation (counting his 1858 and younger) had to wade through the run of Civil War vets that ended with McKinley; some of them would have been just old enough to vote for Hayes in 1876 if the voting age had been eighteen. That's a run of 25 years to TR, or a theoretical run of...28, or four less than the WWII generation dominated. Or actually dominated, since if Bush I had beaten Clinton it would have been 36, and if Bob Dole had succeeded him (bumping the bumptious Quayle) it could have been 40, and if the reanimated head of Kennedy had run in 2004...
GOSH, this is fun, if you don't mind actually knowing something about history when you get done. The Civil War generation (add in Grant, who was twenty-one years older than McKinley) clocked thirty-two years. Washington to Madison, nineteen years difference, twenty-eight-year span. Add in Monroe, twenty-five years younger than Washington but a Founder, thirty-six years.
What else? Well, there's no such jump as Ms (or is that Miss?) Carey might like written into the Constitution, until it's her turn to be vexed by young people, at least: John Tyler, never elected President, interrupts the sixteen years (twenty-four theoretical) from J. Q. Adams to William Henry Harrison, is succeeded by his GenMate Polk's one term before we revert to Taylor, a mere seventeen years younger than Adams, but also six younger than Tyler. Then Tyler's generation presides over the twenty-eight years to Grant. Hey, we're running out of options, here, Megan. Lincoln to Hayes, twenty years actual, twenty-four theoretical. Tyler to Johnson, twenty-eight, theoretical thirty-two. Roosevelt to Hoover, thirty-two actual, thirty-six theoretical. FDR to Ike, twenty-eight. Good to be home again.
So help me, I don't begrudge you being young, or uniformed, nearly so much as I object to the Globe enabling this mindless mishmash. Indeed, our discourse has been poisoned--our discourse has been poisoned since roughly five minutes after Washington's Farewell Address--but now the poisoners control your teevee remote, not a printing press a day's ride from any other town. Wishing it away will not work. Attributing it to both sides of a debate you can't be bothered to study is worse than wishing it away. It's the people you get your information from who have wronged you, not the people who fought to fought to hang on to a pluralistic society under the Reaganaut onslaught. You could look it up.