The Corner

Obama Doesn’t Fit Neatly into Any Generation

In response to Too Close For Comfort

Jonah, Kathleen Parker would have been better off arguing that the flaws of the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama presidencies were separate and distinct, and that it’s foolish to attempt to mash them all together into one common theme of Boomer disregard for accomplishment.

Separately, while Barack Obama technically fits in the category of “Baby Boomer” — he was born in 1961, and most say Boomer-generation births run until 1964 — by being at the tail end, Obama is almost Generation X. Kristol just asserts Obama’s a “Baby Boomer” president, but Obama was in grade school during Woodstock; Vietnam and the draft had little or no impact on his life; he was in eighth grade when Saigon fell. (I notice Parker throws a lot of Vietnam draft-dodging shade at Kristol.)

You make a good point that certain huge news events and cultural changes influence people born in a certain era. But Obama’s the perfect example of a young man shaped by quite different forces than most other Americans his age — his four years living in Indonesia, his mother leaving him to live with his grandparents, the advantages of Punahou School, the nighttime chats with Frank Marshall Davis . . . whatever generation you classify Obama as, his childhood and young-adult circumstances were particularly unique, and thus it’s hard to attribute the problems of his presidency to some sort of generational lapse in values.

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