This post will probably be seen as downright inflammatory by any baby boomer that reads this.
...but what the hell, It's a Thursday!!
I have heard many boomers gushingly compare Barack Obama to JFK. Trust me, I see the similarities and think Obama would be great for this country. However, I'm not entirely certain how boomers get to label him as the second coming of JFK.
Here's my central point.
The baby boom officially began in 1946, but didn't really pick up steam about 1950 (with 3.6 million babies born in that year alone). Even older boomers were only in high school when Kennedy was elected - some were in college when he was assassinated. However, most were still in elementary and middle school at the time of his election.
I have no doubt that their experiences with the Kennedy years were profound and influential - no doubt. However, the authoritative analytical comparisons of Obama's campaign to the JFK campaign provided by some boomers should cause some pause.
I looked back at my personal engagement in politics when I was a teenager. I was interested in politics, but only had a surface understanding of the issues and the personalities involved. Were children of the 60s more educated about politics? Were they more engaged with democracy?
A scene on Larry King Live on CNN struck me on Tuesday night. King asked a young political analyst if there has ever been a campaign like Barack Obama's before. She quickly and cockily shot back - "JFK". You could feel the almost dismissive tone in King's voice when he said that JFK and Obama are different candidates noting these three points:
- JFK had been in the Congress longer.
- JFK was better known at the time he first ran for President.
- Obama's gift for oratory far exceeds that of JFK.
King was born more than a decade before the start of the baby boom having already begun his radio career in Miami by the time Kennedy was running for President. I think all of King's three points ring true.
So what does all this come down, too?
While Obama's campaign draws thematically from the JFK campaign, this campaign is far different in many ways. In many ways, the power of this campaign could outstrip that of JFKs. Let's hope it is.