Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Washington Boomers

Following up on this post, I'll trace the ascent of my baby boomer generation to the top jobs in the federal government (using the standard definition of a baby boomer as anyone born between 1946 and 1964).

The executive and judicial branches are headed by boomers. Barack Obama will be the third consecutive boomer president. His two predecessors are very early boomers; both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were born in 1946. Obama is a late boomer, dating from 1961.

Chief Justice John Roberts is the first boomer in that job. He was born in 1955.

There is no one head of the legislative branch, who would be comparable to the president and the chief justice.

So far, no speaker of the House has been born in 1946 or later. The current incumbent in that office, Nancy Pelosi, was born in 1940. The highest-ranking boomer in the Democratic leadership is John Larson (born in 1948), the new chairman of the Democratic Caucus.

The House Republican leader, John Boehner, is a boomer (1949). So all it would take to make him the first boomer speaker would be to elect a Republican majority at the next election (hint, hint).

One person formally heads up the Senate, but another one really runs the show there. I refer to the vice president of the U.S. (as ex officio president of the Senate), and the majority leader, respectively.

The two boomer vice presidents have been Dan Quayle (1947) and Al Gore (1948). Their two successors, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden, are both significantly older than the boomer presidents whose running-mates they were. Cheney, born in 1941, is five years older than Bush. Biden was born in 1942, and is 18+ years older than Obama.

The only boomer to be Senate majority leader was Bill Frist, who was born in 1952.

Patty Murray (1950) is secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference, making her the highest-ranking boomer in the current Democratic leadership.

John Cornyn, who was born in 1952, is Murray's counterpart on the Republican side, and is the senior boomer in that party's leadership.

Does all this mean anything? Is there a sort of chronological determinism that transmits the qualities for which our generation is (in)famous into public policy? Self-centeredness, a sense of entitlement? I prefer to emphasize (and it's my blog so I can write what I want, how's that for self-centeredness?) worldliness, precocity, self-assurance, etc.

1 comment:

Terry L. Johnson said...

Interesting stuff. The WW-II generation have held sway for quite awhile now and the boomers should be talking more powerful positions.

As a boomer: 'bout time!