Former Vermont Governor, 2004 Presidential competitor, and Democratic National Committee head Howard Dean was on MORNING JOE yesterday, and brought up an interesting point about generational differences of Presidents we elect to the Oval Office.
Dean said it is highly unlikely that we will see Hillary Clinton have no competition for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, because for the nation to go back a generation in birth from one President to the next is unusual—in this case to go back to a “Baby Boomer” born in the late 1940s after electing a President born in the early 1960s. Therefore, Dean states that he believed someone born closer to the birth year of Barack Obama would be more likely to be the nominee, a person such as Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley or New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as examples–with O’Malley one and a half years younger than Obama and Cuomo three and a half years older than Obama.
So Dean has brought up the age issue, just as Republicans have, with their numerous potential candidates in their 40s and early 50s–including Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, and Rand Paul among others.
This statement by Dean caused this author to check out how often has America elected a President much younger than his predecessor, and has uncovered the following:
William Henry Harrison—nearly ten years older than Martin Van Buren
Zachary Taylor—eleven years older than James K. Polk
James Buchanan—thirteen and a half years older than Franklin Pierce
Ronald Reagan—thirteen and a half years older than Jimmy Carter
A few other Presidents have been a few years older than their predecessor, but these are the only four cases of “generational” differences of Presidents we elect, although not precisely a “generation”, which is described as twenty years.
If Hillary Clinton was elected, she would be nearly 14 years older than Barack Obama, more difference than even Buchanan or Reagan from their predecessors.
If Joe Biden was elected, he would be nearly 19 years older than Barack Obama, the greatest difference between two Presidents in American history, and literally a “generation”!
This is food for thought, and realize that Harrison and Taylor were elected for their war exploits as generals, and all the cases mentioned above were before the Civil War, more than a century and a half ago, with the one exception of Ronald Reagan.
The question is whether, and said in irony, is either Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden another Ronald Reagan? Again, this is said with tongue in cheek by a writer who has never been a big fan of Ronald Reagan!