The rise of the late baby boomers

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President-elect Barack Obama may well be one of the 79 million members of the baby boom generation. But he's a late-wave boomer, a child of the 1970s -- as are half of the two dozen people he's selected thus far to help him lead the country.

Many of those Obama is bringing to Washington -- including his Education secretary, Homeland Security chief, Treasury secretary, United Nations ambassador and Energy czar -- came of age in the era of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

And their shared experiences offer insights into how they may govern: They tend to be less ideological than early boomers, more respectful of contrary opinions, more pragmatic and a lot less likely to get bogged down by the shibboleths of the 1960s, according to historians, marketers and pollsters.

Late boomers were doing wheelies on bikes and playing with dolls back when early boomers were fighting in Vietnam, avoiding the draft, singing along with the Mamas & the Papas, mourning a president, marching for civil rights and trekking to Woodstock.

Obama's peers were defined by Watergate, stagflation, gas lines and 20% interest rates. Their cultural touchstones were groups like the Carpenters and Steely Dan (on cassette or 8-track tapes, of course), and shows like "All in the Family" and "Charlie's Angels" (you know who you are). In Hawaii, young Barry Obama was tuning into "Soul Train," which began its 35-year run in 1971.

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