Baby Boomer Presidents
In 1980, we elected Ronald Reagan. Mr. Reagan seemed to be a pretty nice guy, and was good at being President, having been an actor and all. He was reelected in 1984. Here in Galesburg, we take pride in the fact that he once lived here, although I personally wouldn’t advertise that. His “trickle down” theory of economics was a disaster to anyone who had to work for a living. His biggest impact on Galesburg was to fire the controllers at the airport. Outside of that, Mr. Reagan helped phony economics flourish around the world. We’re still paying for it.
Nineteen eighty-eight saw George Bush Sr. beat Michael Dukakis. This was the year of the Gary Hart fiasco. Hart was the leading Democratic contender. Then rumors started about an extramarital affair. Hart challenged the press to prove it. That didn’t take long. The third consecutive Republican was elected to the presidency.
George Bush, Sr., proved to be a fairly popular President. He even won a war against Grenada, although there were very few residents there and fewer fighters. In the end, mainly due to his ineptness, he was defeated by Bill Clinton, the country boy from Hope, Arkansas.
Bill Clinton took office in 1992. He proceeded to let his wife, Hillary, push for universal health-care in the first months of his tenure. The idea was immediately squelched by the powers that be in Washington. His presidency never did quite seem to regain its footing. He became a centrist, and pushed NAFTA to win the election in 1996. The rest, as they say, is history. Sex has taken down many a good man. Bill couldn’t keep it zipped up. We had some prosperous years under Clinton, and he moved our deficit to a surplus. Outside of that, he was a little disappointing to me. He so far is the best overall politician to come out of the boomer era. He could have done so much more.
The 2000 election was the Democrats to win. Al Gore had the experience but not the personality. George W. Bush won the election, in a somewhat unusual manner. I have never forgiven Al Gore for giving up so easily. He should have just moved into the White House. The Supreme Court decided the election. That’s not quite how it’s supposed to work. And the state where there was trouble: Florida, where Mr. Bush’s brother was governor. Now there’s a coincidence. Anyway, George W. took office and held it for eight years. The 2004 election also had problems, but it should have never been close. That win by Bush was the most devastating political race the United States had ever seen. No one but Karl Rove thought he would win. The results have been obvious. He proceeded to place the United States in the most precarious position it has been in, ever. For another 10 years, we will be feeling the utter failure of his presidency. In my opinion, he scores the worst ever.
That takes us to 2008. A historical occasion of unmeasured, probably immeasurable, significance. The election of the first African-American president in U.S. history. Barack Hussein Obama. What a name. What an accomplishment. All made possible by George W. Bush. Eight years of utter chaos and total ineptness. And out of the misery Bush created comes a promise for change that the citizens of the United States could not ignore. A landslide victory, which many people, including myself, thought impossible in these times. Already, the right-wing has started in. It is a difficult time, and will be a difficult presidency. We’ll see.
The last three Presidents have all been baby boomers. It is our turn to lead. Bill Clinton, born in 1946, George W. Bush, born in 1946, and Barack Obama, born in 1961. I wouldn’t count Obama, since I only record the baby boomers up to 1960, but most historians continue the baby boom until 1964, due to a continued high birth rate. So I suppose technically, giving the historians the benefit of the doubt, the last three Presidents have been baby boomers. It is quite a mix, and runs from one spectrum to the next. But I suspect it wouldn’t likely turn out any other way. That’s boomers for you, unpredictable and not easily placed into categories. We wouldn’t have it any other way.