Bush confronts the big 6-0

July 4, 2006 | By Richard Benedetto

President Bush hits a milestone Thursday familiar to some of his fellow baby boomers: He turns 60.

“Bush and Clinton, both leading-edge boomers, show the diversity of opinions and philosophies of the baby boom generation,” says Cheryl Russell, author of Demographics of the U.S.: Trends and Projections.

Neil Howe, co-author of Generations, lists the red state-blue state political divide as a boomer contribution: “The culture wars of today are a boomer vs. boomer phenomenon, and Bush and Clinton are good examples of that generation.” Yet despite their differences, Bush and his cohorts have shared a number of experiences, some of which have drawn presidential comment in recent months.

On his changing hair color: “I blame my gray hair on my mother. I don’t know who you blame yours on. I used to think 60 was old, didn’t you?”—May 10, at an Medicare event with seniors in Orlando.

On his loss of hearing: “Say that again, Steve. I’m getting a little old. I’m having trouble hearing.”—Jan. 13, to a reporter at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

On the passage of time: “Sixty years after we fought the Japanese, I can tell you that I work with Prime Minister (Junichiro) Koizumi on a variety of issues. I know 60 seems like a long time. If I were six or seven, it would seem like a long time. At 59, it seems like a long time. Maybe when I’m 60, it will seem like a short time.”—April 6, in Charlotte

On the growth of social programs: “You’re going to be confronted with, unless we act now, a Social Security system and a Medicare system that’s gone broke. I think about it a lot because I see what’s coming down the road: a lot of baby boomers like me turning 60 this year.”—March 22, in Wheeling, W.Va.

On exercising: “I’m not running hardly at all. It’s kind of like my knees are like tires, you know, and they’re bald. I’m a mountain bike guy.”—Jan. 23 in Manhattan, Kan.

More highlights from 1946, the year Bush was born:

Politics: Harry Truman was president and in November, Republicans won control of both the House and Senate.

Sports: The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series over the Boston Red Sox in seven games. The league that would become the National Basketball Association was formed.

Foreign affairs: Former British prime minister Winston Churchill coined the phrase “Iron Curtain” about the emerging Cold War with the Soviet Union. Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering poisons himself before his death sentence is carried out at Nuremberg.

Music: “Day by Day,” by Frank Sinatra, “Prisoner of Love” by Perry Como, and “Ole Buttermilk Sky” by Hoagy Carmichael were recorded.

Literature: Animal Farm by George Orwell and The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill were published, as was All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, which won the Pulitzer Prize for literature.

Movies: It’s A Wonderful Life and Henry V were released, as was The Best Years of Our Lives, which won the Oscar for best picture.

Others turning 60 this year: First lady Laura Bush, singers Cher and Dolly Parton, Hall of Fame baseball player Reggie Jackson, former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak, movie directors Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone, real estate tycoon Donald Trump, former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman. Actor Sylvester Stallone shares his birthday with President Bush.

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