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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bush: fighting fit and shocked to be 60

On Thursday, however, President George Bush will undergo what will come to be the defining experience of boomers in the next few years: he turns 60. In the US the high-profile milestone - which Bill Clinton reaches in August - has prompted an outbreak of reflection on the ageing of the baby-boom generation.

It also seems to have provoked much introspection on the part of President Bush himself, who rarely lets a week pass these days without mentioning his advancing years. "I'm a bike guy, and I like to plug in music on my iPod when I'm riding along, to hopefully help me forget how old I am," he told an audience in Minnesota in February.

"I'm getting kind of old these days," he told Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, the next month.

In Nebraska in June he thanked the state governor for taking "time out of your schedule to say hello to the old president. Getting older by the minute, by the way." And on returning from a surprise trip to Baghdad three weeks ago, in response to a reporter who asked how he was doing, the president said: "A little jet-lagged, as I'm sure you can imagine. Nearly 60."

Mr Bush has referred to the upcoming birthday as "a personal crisis". He meant the remark as a joke, and used it to lend weight to his controversial attempts to push through changes to welfare and medical care for America's future generations of over-60s, which he says will be needed precisely because boomers are working and living longer.

But it is impossible to avoid the sense that turning 60 is a genuine personal shock for the world's most powerful baby boomer - as it surely will be for other members of the generation who, according to the cliche, believed they would live forever.

Bush: fighting fit and shocked to be 60
Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian, July 3, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mr President!

I hope you handle this shock gracefully. I also hope you continue to take good care of your health and stay in shape. It will be a shame if you end up avoiding having to stand trial for the crimes you have commited due to fragile health the way Augusto Pinochet did.

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