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
- Rare silent Native American movie of 1920s attracting a lot of interest
- It happened in Idaho and was the largest massacre of Indians in US history, but where exactly did it take place?
- Junípero Serra’s Missions Destroyed Entire Native Cultures. And Now He’s Going to Be a Saint.
- Isis destruction of Palmyra's Temple of Bel revealed in satellite images
- McKinley's lost his mountain. Should we still remember his presidency?
- Japanese historian upends the familiar narrative of WW 2 by taking a bottom up approach, focusing on fascism from the grassroots
- Holocaust-denying historian David Irving organises 'disgusting' £2,000-a-head holiday tours of former concentration camps and Hitler's HQ so people can 'make up their own mind about the truth'
- 72 history professors sign letter urging removal of Jefferson Davis statue from Kentucky Capitol
- 10 Years After Katrina, the Enduring Value of the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank
- Historian author Antony Beevor says his new World War 2 book may anger Americans