There is no rhyme or reason to claims in the Beloit Mindset List about what college students can and can’t remember, as these items about U.S. Presidents illustrate.
They have known only two presidents. (Class of 2017, #11)
The class of 2017 can’t remember the presidency of Bill Clinton, whose term ended the year they turned six.
Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge. (Class of 2016, #8)
The class of 2016 can’t remember the presidency of Bill Clinton, whose term ended the year they turned seven.
As for the class of 2015, without any memory whatever of George Herbert Walker Bush as president, they came into existence as Bill Clinton came into the presidency. (Class of 2015, introduction)
The class of 2015 can’t remember George H.W. Bush, whose term ended the year they were born, but the Bill Clinton is worth mentioning even though his term ended the year they turned eight.
Potato has always ended in an “e” in New Jersey per vice presidential edict. (Class of 2014, #42)
Dan Quayle’s meaningless spelling mistake is part of the mindset of the Class of 2014 even though it happened the year they were born.
Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties. (Class of 2014, #55)
The class of 2014 can remember Fleetwood Mac playing at Bill Clinton’s inauguration even though it happened the year they turned one-year-old.
Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled. (Class of 2013, #21)
Bill Clinton’s claim that he “didn’t inhale” marijuana is somehow significant to the Class of 2013 even though he said it the year they turned one.
They have known only two presidents. (Class of 2010, #2)
The Class of 2010 can’t remember the presidency of George H.W. Bush, whose term ended the year they turned five.
A Southerner has always been President of the United States. (Class of 2006, #1)
Reagan’s presidency ended in the year the Class of 2006 turned five. So they have had a Southern president since then (assuming Bush I is really a Southerner).
The President has always addressed the nation on the radio on Saturday. (Class 2004, #17)
Reagan re-started this tradition the year the Class of 2004 was born. And members of the class have probably never missed tuning in to hear the weekly addresses.
They have no idea that a “presidential scandal” once meant nothing more than Ronald Reagan taking President Carter’s briefing book in “Debategate.” (Class of 2004, #21)
The Class of 2004 can’t remember “Debategate,” which took place two years before the year of their birth.
They cannot identify the last United States President to throw-up on a Japanese prime minister. (Class of 2003, #35)
While I’m sure this trivial event has no significance for the mindset of anyone, Bush I threw up on the Japanese Prime Minister in 1992, the year members of the Class of 2003 turned 11.
They cannot imagine waiting a generation to get the dirt on the U.S. President. (Class of 2003, #38)
Maybe Messrs. McBride and Nief had something in mind when the composed this item, but I have no idea what it is.
There has only been one Pope. They can only remember one other president. (Class of 2002, #5)
The Class of 2002 can’t remember Ronald Reagan, who was elected the year they were born and served as president until the year they turned nine.
To sum up, according to the Beloit Mindset List, matriculating college students have no memory of U.S. Presidents who served even into the ninth year of their lives, but items of presidential trivia—Dan Quayle’s spelling mishap and Bill Clinton’s remarks about smoking marijuana—are cultural touchstones because they happened around the time the students were born.
The most important premise of the Mindset List is that the significance of events for a class of college students is dependent on the relationship between the purported year of their birth and the year of the event in question. This is a ridiculous premise, but if Messrs. McBride and Nief are going to rely on it, you’d think they’d try to be consistent about it.
Which presidents do college students remember and what significance do they have for them? I don’t know, but neither do Messrs. McBride and Nief.
[In an earlier post, I explained why the Mindset List won’t discuss Obama’s presidency until the Class of 2026’s list.]