by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
None of the three most recent presidents had much to show for himself by way of accomplishments, personal or professional or political, when he ran for office. Each could in fact be said to have had more in the way of disqualifications than qualifications for office. Yet Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all became president.
Once is happenstance. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a trend. Perhaps lack of accomplishment is a feature, not a bug, for baby boomer presidents.
After all, in the world of the baby boomers, what is an accomplishment? Accomplishments are what their parents, conventionally patriotic and earnestly bourgeois, labored and strove for. Baby boomers, by contrast, aspire rather than labor, and seek rather than strive. Baby boomers aspire to the appropriate attitude and affect, and seek the suitable sense and sensibility.
Accomplishments are old school. Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H.?W. Bush—all had accomplished things, often difficult things, in their personal and public lives before they ran for president. We dare say all (even Carter) had done more than any of their boomer successors. That all served in the military is only a small part—though a telling part—of the story. The boomer presidents, of course, didn’t serve, or barely served. As the late Dean Barnett wrote in these pages, “History called the baby boomers. They didn’t answer the phone.”
The boomer presidents were indulged as young men. They then indulged themselves with the fancy that they should be president. The voters indulged them, too, passing over the question of their qualifications—and, indeed, excusing several manifest disqualifications.
So Hillary Clinton would fit right in.