Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Political Dynasties: Wives vs. Children

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo misses a crucial distinction when he argues that Hillary's election would promote a dynastic trend in putatively meritocratic American politics, creating a de facto aristocracy. I made a similar argument about Tom Suozzi, George W., and other members of the "lucky sperm club."

The key difference is that wives are not sons. Spouses, one way or another, earn their positions, they aren't born into them. They're more likely to be equals to their famous spouses. Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, and Corazon Aquino are shrewd, ambitious people who were crucial to their spouses' successes. Children of political dynasties do not earn their power, they're just born into it. Sometimes the kids inherit their famous forebears' winning qualities, but at least as often those qualities get diluted with every genetic recombination (just look at the increasingly useless (and physically repulsive) Kennedy clan).

In the continuum of earned power, children of dynasties are one extreme, opportunists who marry into dynasties (such as Governor Arnold) are to the left of them, and wives who help their husbands achieve that power (Hillary, Eleanor, Elizabeth) are a few notches further to the left. Of course, the fabulous thing about the new leaders of Chile, Liberia, and Germany is that they are among the first female leaders to come to power completely independently. But Hillary doesn't offend me as much as George W. and Tom Suozzi do. Now if Chelsea were running for president ...

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