WE'VE JUST DISCOVERED, TO OUR ASTONISHMENT, THAT YOU HAVE NEPOTISM IN YOUR POLITICS
Two Brits -- Andrew Sullivan (blogging) and Geoffrey Wheatcroft (writing in The Washington Post) -- have apparently just now noticed that there's nepotism in American politics.
Funny how this fact seems invisible to so many people until they realize that Hillary Clinton is in our political front ranks. Then it becomes utterly intolerable.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: American politics is rife with Udalls and Bayhs and Romneys and Landons and Rockefellers and Landrieus and Murkowskis and Kennedys and Bushes. We have dynasties everywhere you look, and most of them are real dynasties, i.e., multigenerational ones, which the Clinton "dynasty" isn't and almost certainly won't be.
Wheatcroft is appalled that Hillary Clinton seeks to follow in her husband's footsteps. Well, sorry, but, for better or worse, this happens all the time in America, as do dynasties. Here's a thoroughly unremarkable American political story:
Marie Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs, usually known as Lindy Boggs ... was the wife of House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, in addition to being the mother of Cokie Roberts (a television news commentator), Tommy Boggs, (a prominent lobbyist), and the late Barbara Boggs Sigmund, a mayor of Princeton, New Jersey....
She first took office [as a congresswoman] after the presumed death of her husband from a plane crash. The first bill that the House passed in 1973, House Resolution 1, officially recognized Hale Boggs's death, opening the door for a special election, which she won, running as a Democrat in the New Orleans-based 2nd District. She was elected to a full term in 1974 with 82% of the vote and was reelected seven times thereafter....
(Cokie Roberts and Tommy Boggs may not be elected officials, but they're two of the most prominent members of the D.C. permanent government.)
Wheatcroft and Sullivan harrumph that Mrs. Clinton's qualifications are scant, and Sullivan adds that the same can be said of that other beneficiary of nepotism, the current president. But you don't have to be the product of nepotism to be an underqualified U.S. president. Ronald Reagan spent most of his adult life as a movie actor; he'd been a two-term governor, but Jimmy Carter had been only a one-term governor. John F. Kennedy was underqualified, and Dwight Eisenhower had no political experience at all. Only one of our last five presidents had any prior political experience at the national level.
And who's going to be president if Hillary Clinton isn't? One-term governor Mitt Romney? Lobbyist turned actor turned politician turned actor turned politician Fred Thompson? Rudy Giuliani, who served two terms as mayor but has spent the last five years of his life as a professional speechifying egomaniac? One-term senator John Edwards? Less-than-one-term senator Barack Obama?
The prinicipal job of a front-rank U.S. politician is running for office. Our election campaigns are preposterously long and absurdly expensive; that's why familiarity with the horrible, grubby process, even if it was just learned at the kitchen table in discussion with a spouse, puts one in a better position to run for high office than, y'know, actual qualifications. Hillary Clinton may not have the resume of Joe Biden or Bill Richardson or Chris Dodd, but she's learned about the parts of politics that matter if you want to run a serious presidential campaign.
I'm not saying this to defend our system. I don't like our money-drenched, charisma-obsessed system at all. But if you're going to complain about it, complain about it in general. Don't suddenly notice one of its weaknesses when your proclamation of that weakness could help replace Bush with a Bush clone.