Politicians kissing babies: a short history
Richard Nixon thought that doing it would make him look like a "jerk." Geraldine Ferraro said it spread germs and lipstick, but did it anyway. Andrew Jackson suckered his secretary of war into doing it for him. Davy Crockett did it so much it should have been mentioned in his theme song. We're talking about kissing babies, that revered yet reviled, much-analyzed yet meaningless American political custom.
Few candidates dare avoid it, yet no one can point to a case of a politician's failure to do it (or to do it well) causing an electoral defeat. As we head into the thick of another hotly contested baby-smooching season, here's a short history of our love-hate relationship with a campaign-trail cliché.
1833: Andrew Jackson's lips are sealed
The first politician to lay lips on an unsuspecting infant is unknown, though President Andrew Jackson is credited with the first use of a supporter's baby as a political prop. As recounted in an 1888 issue of Cosmopolitan (no, not that one), during an 1833 tour of the eastern states, the president was approached by a "poor bareheaded woman with a little baby under her arm" who said she wished to see him...
comments powered by Disqus
- Isis Palmyra demolition has begun with ancient God Lion statue destroyed
- Moving Photographs of Japanese American Internees, Then and Now
- A One-of-a-Kind Trove Reveals What 19th-Century American Boyhood Was Really Like
- St. Louis University moves controversial statue after protests
- UNC Renames Building That Honored Ku Klux Klan Leader
- NYT hosts debate including Eric Foner: How Americans should remember Reconstruction
- William Leuchtenburg says historians and the media have been too hard on Obama
- Hugh Ambrose, historian who helped develop WWII Museum, dead at 48
- Historian discounts claim that Churchill and other British PM's were gay
- Nick Bunker Wins $50,000 2015 George Washington Book Prize