Michael Barone

As a senator, Clinton has tried to move beyond the boomer civil war herself. She has worked conscientiously on the Armed Services Committee to learn more about the military and has made the valid point that she has more experience in the White House than almost any other presidential candidate in history. She has stressed her lifelong religious faith and has provided no basis to doubt her sincerity. But she has also had to respond to the Democratic left's demands for ever-angrier opposition to the military effort in Iraq. And she is still inevitably tied to her husband, who had high professional job ratings but low character assessments. She can argue that she has not stopped thinking about tomorrow, but she is inevitably tied to the 1990s.

Most of the leading Republican candidates do not have this problem. Rudolph Giuliani (born 1944) is still perilously close to being identified as a boomer, but his stands on many cultural issues and his personal life are closer to the half of the boomer generation that backs the other party. John McCain (born in 1936) is a heroic member of a different generation, one whose leading politicians typically served in the military (Edward Kennedy, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis). Fred Thompson (born in 1941) had at least one child who was a boomer and is the father of two young children today. Only Mitt Romney (born in 1947) is clearly a boomer -- one who has lived his life and has taken positions (albeit some of them recently) that clearly identify him as part of the conservative half of his generation.

All of which suggests that the Republicans are better positioned than the Democrats to move beyond the boomer civil war. But some things may keep us there. Attitudes on Iraq are reminiscent of those on Vietnam, the war that split the baby boom generation in two. Abortion, though overemphasized by a press full of aging boomers, is still a proxy for the cultural issues that divide their generation. Global warming is advanced by liberal boomers like Gore with an intensity that makes it less a technical or scientific matter and more like a religious faith -- the stuff of culture wars. It's not clear that voters who want to move on will get their wish.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM