September 06, 2009

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Okay, just some harmless, non-partisan stuff for the remainder of this gloriously socialistic holiday weekend. As a politics junkie with a particular interest in American presidential politics, these photos have always been interesting to me: the "Five Presidents" shots from (I think) 1991 and 2008. The first one I saw constantly, over the course of my professional career, and the second one was just fun in that post-election haze of December '08, before Obama became human again. Anyway, I've always had fun doing the whole Sesame Street "one of these things is not like the others" with the dubious members of that most exclusive club.

So, the first photo (Ford, Nixon, Bush, Reagan, Carter): each one of these men had a unique aspect of their presidency that none of the others shared. Only one resigned in a violent frenzy of shame (Nixon). Only one was never actually elected—appointed to the vice-presidency, assumed the presidency upon his predecessor's resignation, and defeated in a re-election bid (Ford). Only one was a Democrat (Carter). Only one was elected to, and served, two full terms in office (Reagan). Only one was an elected vice-president who succeeded his predecessor in his own right (Bush).

There are lots of things in common too, though—three of these men were vice-presidents (Nixon, Ford, and Bush). Four were Republicans (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush). Two were governors (Carter and Reagan). Two are still living (Carter and Bush).

Okay, second photo (Bush I, Obama, Bush II, Clinton, Carter), from when Bush II was still in office, but after Obama was elected.

Only one is a father of the other (and conversely, only one is a son): the Bushes. Only one was impeached by the House of Representatives (Clinton, who was of course acquitted by the Senate and served two full terms). Only one had to fend off a primary challenge from his own party during a re-election bid (Carter, who had to beat Ted Kennedy in 1980 before losing to Reagan). Only one was a senator before becoming president (Obama). And sadly, only one is black (Obama).

These guys have things in common too: three were governors (Carter, Clinton, Bush II). Two were re-elected and served two full terms (Clinton and Bush II). Two were defeated in re-election bids (Carter and Bush I).

I'm sure there are other similarities and/or unique aspects of these eight jokers, but I can't remember them right now, so these little trivia tidbits will have to do. Happy Labor Day weekend, comrades.


  1. Very interesting blog. But virtually no experts anywhere have said that Obama is part of Generation X. By contrast, a long list of prominent experts have said that Obama is part of Generation Jones (born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X). Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten a ton of media attention; in fact, the Associated Press' annual Trend Report forecast the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. Many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) specifically refer to Obama as part of Generation Jones. Here is a 5 minute YouTube video with over 20 influential pundits talking about Obama as a GenJoneser:

    It is important to distinguish between the post-WWII demographic boom in births vs. the cultural generations born during that era. Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. Many experts now believe it breaks down more or less this way:

    DEMOGRAPHIC boom in babies: 1946-1964
    Baby Boom GENERATION: 1942-1953
    Generation Jones: 1954-1965
    Generation X: 1966-1978

    Here is an op-ed in USA TODAY about Obama as the first GenJones President:

    Here's a page with a good overview of recent media interest in GenJones, with many media references to Obama as a GenJoneser:

  2. Anonymous3:40 PM

    Bush SR had a primary challenge from Buchanan in 92.

  3. Well, guess I didn't count that one, did I? Perot made more of a dent anyway. I think I was just blocking out Buchanan's neo-Nuremberg turn at the Houston convention. Sorry.


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