Clinton and Bush test America’s appetite for dynasties

Roundup
tags: election 2016, Clinton, Bush



Rick Perlstein is author of "Nixonland" and "The Invisible Bridge"

In Britain, the princess is a commoner. But in the Land of Opportunity, the Republican frontrunner for president is the grandson of a senator and the son and brother of a president; the Democrat a president’s wife. Or at least that’s the way we thought it was supposed to go.

Not too many months ago, John Ellis “Jeb” Bush’s nomination as the Republican candidate was spoken of as a near inevitability. The presumption had always been that he was the son of George H W Bush who was destined for great things; it was an accident of timing that saw his layabout older brother in the presidency instead. But now that his turn has come around this year, Mr Bush’s relative liberalism on immigration and his resolute blandness in an increasingly personality-driven Republican party find him well behind Donald Trump, whom Spy magazine used to dismiss as a “short-fingered vulgarian”.

Across the aisle, Hillary Clinton’s ascension had seemed still more inevitable. But a scandal-obsessed press, focusing on her use of a personal email as secretary of state, has degraded her support so steadily that Joe Biden, the vice-president, might enter the race — even though, were he elected, he would be 74 years old. Thanks to Mrs Clinton’s association with the entente cordiale her husband made with Wall Street, she has been passed in polling in the New Hampshire primary by the left-wing insurgent Bernie Sanders.

America, it seems, has had its fill of political dynasties.

For much of the 20th century things were different. Franklin Roosevelt was inspired to enter politics by the example of his cousin Theodore. The Longs (at least 14 of them) ran Louisiana; the Russells ran Georgia; the Chafees, Rhode Island. Mitt Romney, former governor and presidential candidate, is son of George Romney, former governor and presidential candidate. Then there were the Kennedys — too many to list. ...




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