January 22, 2007

Presidential Cohorts

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 4:44 am

The presidents from JFK to Bush I (1960-1992) were all born between 1908 and 1924. That is to say, over 32 years the presidency was held by an age cohort (the World War II generation) of just 16 years. Both Clinton and George W. Bush were born in 1946, a gap of 22 years from the next-youngest presidents (Carter and George H.W. Bush). The only failed major-party nominees who fall into this gap are: Walter Mondale (b. 1928), Michael Dukakis (b. 1933), and John Kerry (b. 1943). Nobody born between 1924 and 1943 has even come close to being the president. I don’t have the time to look up all the 12 million people who are running in 2008, but I’m sure John McCain is the oldest and he was born in 1936. If he is elected (and he won’t be, knock wood), he would be the first (and almost certainly the only) president born in the 1930s. What’s the deal? Were all the children born of the depression jerks or what?

Now that I look at it, there’s a similar gap from Eisenhower (born 1890) to Johnson (born 1908). Since there’s only one or two presidents a decade, on average, it sort of makes sense that the birth distribution would be uneven. But still, isn’t it strange that an entire generation didn’t bring forth one worthy man? Who’s the all time best Washington politician born 1924-1946? Bernie Sanders? Daniel Patrick Moynihan? Dick Cheney?


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