Newsweek cover story: 1968 ... The year that changed everything

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The 1968 election is four decades old, and yet we're still rehashing that moment—that era—in the 2008 contest. Why do we come back to it? And why won't it leave us alone?

Barack Obama was born in the 1960s but is not of them. Such is the constant promise of his presidential campaign. Announcing his candidacy last January, he vowed to lead a "new generation" unencumbered by the divisive struggles of the past. By last week, when a Fox News reporter asked him to define the difference between him and the Democratic front runner, Hillary Clinton, he had grown more pointed. "Senator Clinton and others have been fighting some of the same fights since the '60s," Obama replied. "It makes it very difficult for them to bring the country together to get things done."

Obama's promise—I am not the'60s—is heartfelt, but ultimately hard to believe. Just look at the gray-haired '60s idealists inside the senator's own brain trust who see him as the fulfillment of 40 years' worth of hard work. Or look at the throbbing crowds that mob the young senator, reminiscent in so many ways of the crowds that mobbed Bobby Kennedy 40 years ago. Or look at the Secret Service detail that trails Obama, a reminder of the old '60s lesson that assassination is a real threat. Obama is the '60s, whether he likes it or not.

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