Joe Biden’s ’68 Throwback Special


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website

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30 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    According to one recent poll (but from a reliable outfit) Biden, Warren, and Sanders are essentially tied for first place and Biden continues his tradition of gaffing himself out of a lead. I admit that the poll had a margin of error of 5.7 percent and Biden probably still has commanding leads among older African-American voters (though apparently Warren is rising with this group).

    Biden is very old. Trump is very old. I think Trump is showing clear signs of dementia and decline. Papa Trump had Alzheimer’s so there is a pattern. I think a lot of Biden’s gaffes might be the sign of the same cognitive decline but in a less asshole, stupid, and evil form.

    In my ideal world, there would be nothing wrong with discussing whether someone is too old for a leadership position in politics, business, professions, academics, etc. But the Baby Boomer generation gave us “hope I die before I get old” and the conclusion then is don’t die. There are lots of silent generation and baby boomer types who are old but clearly do not want to retire anytime soon or hand over reigns of power to the next generations.

    I also maintain that Biden’s strong lead so far is not because many Democrats agree with him policy wise (sorry North!) but because he is a known quantity and a lot of Democrats just want Trump gone. This is causing all sorts of calculations on removing risk factors and I think a lot of voters might look at 2016 and determine being a woman is a risk factor. This is changing though.

    Also compared to Trump’s decree by tweet, temper tantrums, and clear corruption (let me profit from the next G7 meeting!), Biden’s memory gaps and flubs seem harmless.Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Sigh. Joe Biden was born in 1942. Which makes him age 20 in 1962, and age 26 in 1968. Is he graduating from college in 1968? This is a very typical kind of politician thing.

    I’m sure Kent State had a big impact on him, as it did on me, even though I was barely in high school at the time. By the time of the 5th anniversary, I was in college though, and I participated in my one and only political protest by refraining from going to class on the 5th anniversary. I’m pretty sure most of my professors did the same thing, so outrageous was the behavior of the National Guard that day, and so outrageous was the behavior of the administration in response.

    But to many, yeah, it’s ancient history. I also think Biden is too old to be president, though I’d be happy to vote for him if he’s the nominee. And if he gets the older folks like me riled up and ready to give and vote, that’s good. Biden is clearly a team player.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      Is he graduating from college in 1968?

      Law school, according to Wikipedia. Never heard 3L students referred to as “seniors,” but I didn’t go to law school. Saul?Report

  3. Avatar George Turner says:

    Excellent piece!

    I think Biden’s only got this far because everybody, even on the right, have warm feelings for him. Brilliance and likability are separate traits, and although Biden is of above average intelligence (an admittedly low bar), his memory’s database index system was never a highly tuned piece of wetware. The older he gets, the more he’s going to become Forest Gump, hazily aware of all the world-shaking events that happened around him and pretty vague on the details, but still smiling Uncle Joe.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Iowa is a pretty politically-savvy electorate and Warren has done a good job there. I think her and Sanders will split NH due to their current home states. That leaves SC. Question is, does Biden get the Obama love or do they abandon him? We could possibly not have a clear front-runner even after the First Three primaries.

    I know I have said this many time, but as a proud GenXer, I’m so done with the Baby Boomers. I would begrudgingly vote for Warren but Biden and Sanders can suck an egg.Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Just a note for you and Saul, and maybe others: Boomers are not the largest population group in the US. This ended about 5 years ago. They may still be the largest voting bloc, because people vote more reliably as they get older, as a general rule.

      The world is yours. Meanwhile, just for fun, I looked up the birth year of some recent presidents, and got:

      Trump 1946
      Obama 1964
      George W. Bush 1946
      Bill Clinton 1946
      George HW Bush 1924
      Ronald Reagan 1911
      Jimmy Carter 1924
      Gerald Ford 1913
      Richard Nixon 1913

      I don’t have good enough knowledge of stats at my fingertips to say whether all those doubling and tripling of birth years is easily explainable by coincidence or not. But it looks kind of fishy to me, as if there were some biases in birth year. We know that birth year introduces biases into other measures of social success (being born in the 30’s was practically a guarantee of professional success, for instance). Maybe that applies to the presidency, too?

      Which would explain your irritation with Boomers, since three presidents were born in the first year of the Baby Boom, and one at the end (or just after the end, depending on who’s counting).

      But that puts them far away from my own birth year (1956). That’s about as far away as it’s possible to be for someone isn’t just a lot younger than presidents usually are. So I don’t really relate to any of them on a generational basis, in spite of whatever demographic grouping we might be said to belong to.

      Just sayin’. All the stuff about Boomers over the years never really seemed to have much to do with me. And Joseph Robinette Biden, born in 1942, is not, in fact, a Baby Boomer.Report

      • Interesting. Bush, Clinton, and Trump all the same age, yet three men who could not be more different.Report

        • Avatar Pinky in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

          They were all immature. Bush sobered up and put it behind him. Clinton and Trump never denied themselves a thing. I admire Bush, and I hate to lump him with those other two, but there’s a Boomer self-indulgence that all of them exhibited.

          It’s weird. One part of me thinks that generational analysis is high-class astrology. But I look at Biden, and I think of him as a different generation. A four year difference? It seems so much greater. Maybe it’s because of what this article is about, his half-remembered stories of the 1960’s, or maybe it’s that I remember his softness toward the Soviets and their allies; I don’t know. But I recently referred to him as “old-school”, and I would never think of using that term for the other three.Report

          • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Pinky says:

            No one born in the 1950’s will likely ever be President. No one born in the 1930’s was.Report

            • Avatar Pinky in reply to CJColucci says:

              I had thought we’d only get two Boomer presidents. When Obama won, I read it as the country deciding to move past Boomerdom. I really didn’t expect us to go backward chronologically. I guess if Biden would win, we’d go Boomer Boomer post-Boomer Boomer pre-Boomer, but I don’t think we’d ever go Boomer again after that.

              But I could be wrong. One thing that keeps coming up in these conversations is a formal or informal age limit on the presidency, but I oppose that. Especially with our increased understanding and tech. A person of X age in 10 years will have a realistic expectation of more years of health than a person of X age 10 years ago.

              Oh, I missed my sarcastic opportunity – no one was born in the 1930’s.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        Obama was born in 1961.

        It says so on his birth certificate.Report

      • Avatar Frank Benlin in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        > three presidents were born in the first year of the Baby Boom

        This picture was taken August 14, 1945. During the time frame of 10 months to 12 months after that date, three US Presidents were born.

        > one at the end (or just after the end, depending on who’s counting)

        Due to the circumstances of his birth and his upbringing, I would be loathe to classify Obama as a baby boomer.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Frank Benlin says:


          • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            I don’t know what Frank’s answer would be but see my comment below.

            Originally the Baby Boom was just a population cohort defined as a literal big bunch of babies born in the wake of GI’s returning home after WW2 and starting families that had been delayed by the war. It wasn’t until later that we started naming other vaguely defined generations and ascribing cultural significance to it all. It feels a bit like modern-day horoscopy to me. But maybe I would feel that way being on the cusp between boomers and X-ers, and not really being able to solidly identify with either.Report

          • Avatar Frank Benlin in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            His parents met as college students well after the end of World War II. Neither of them were in the war. Obama then spent a great part of his childhood in Indonesia. Plus the US birth rate had started to fall by 1961.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Frank Benlin says:

              Fair enough.
              I was born in Dec of 1960 as the youngest of 6, and like Road Scholar, I feel very little like a Boomer since our childhoods were so very different.

              And yeah, the named generation thing seems quite a bit overblown as an explanatory tale of generations.

              One of the things I’ve noticed is that there are bigger differences within any given generation than between them.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                And yeah, the named generation thing seems quite a bit overblown as an explanatory tale of generations.

                I think there’s something to the concept in the way that events or conditions will have different effects on your worldview depending on how old you were at the time, and I think the late childhood and teenage years are especially important in that regard since that’s when you become aware of the outside world. But I also think the current defined divisions are mostly bs and meaningless.Report

              • Avatar Ozzy! in reply to Road Scholar says:

                If you are too young to have been in the active draft (or have all your friends be drafted) you are a product of a certain experience.

                The next really big, truly fundamental change in how people grew up was connectivity – if you and your cohort had internet and a cell phone in high school then that’s a good dividing line.

                I’m a borderline Xer / Millenial, and I was pre cell phone for high school and most of college (81)Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Ozzy! says:

                Yeah, the draft was a big deal (thank you, Dick Nixon, for saving me from having to make a really hard choice).Report

              • Avatar Ozzy! in reply to Michael Cain says:

                It changed people’s view on the government. In ways that are still recussing down the political spectrum.

                I think that there is a very undertold story to be made for conservatism in the 90’s to late 00’s that is really people who have a good reason to limit government power (I was/could have been drafted into Vietnam war) swinging hard for the eff the government vote.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Frank Benlin says:

              Obama lived in Indonesia for 4 years.

              It dep2nds on who you read but starting dates for GenX are generally given as 1961 to 1965. Obama being born in 1961 puts him on the very front of that. I consider him an honorary Gen Xer though, based on cool points.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        Actually Obama was born Aug 4, 1961. Just a bit more than a year younger than me.

        I know that demographers put me right at the end of the Boomers but I’ve never really identified as one. My oldest siblings were born in ’44, ’45, and ’46 — indisputably boomers — and our formative cultures were completely different.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        “Just a note for you and Saul, and maybe others: Boomers are not the largest population group in the US. This ended about 5 years ago. They may still be the largest voting bloc, because people vote more reliably as they get older, as a general rule.

        The world is yours.”

        Most of my complaints surround BBs seemingly being unable to exit the job market and make room for the rest of us.Report

  5. Avatar CJColucci says:

    Get off of my lawn.Report

  6. Avatar Silver Wolf says:

    Two things. You mention that some people consider the period before the smart phone to be no longer the modern era. Though I am pushing 50, I consider myself in that group. I have a lot of memories, naturally, but to me they are almost all faded photos (ironic metaphor). Of course I have always lived in a period about ten years into the future. Today usually feels like a recent, vivid memory on the path to where I really am. Unfortunately, this can be a detriment as I find myself waiting impatiently for the world to catch up to my view of it.

    The second; the idea that time passes people by usually just before death is, in my opinion, incorrect. I would argue that, for a great many people, time stops in their 20s and they begin living in a world that appears ever more alien to them.Report

  7. Avatar George Turner says:

    You know, it may not be all due to age, as AOC has delighted us with her brain droppings yet again.

    “I think this new generation is very profound, and very strong, and very brave, because they’re actually willing to go to the streets. Previous generations have just assumed that government’s got it.”

    Yep. Older folks and prior generations didn’t question the government or protest a darn thing. Nosiree Bob.Report