Last July Diane spoke with Financial Times columnist Edward Luce about his book, "The Retreat of Western Liberalism." A year later, we have invited him back for an update.
On Monday afternoon, Jeb Bush is expected to announce he’s running for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race. On Saturday, on New York’s Roosevelt Island, Hillary Clinton delivered her first major speech as a candidate for the democratic nomination. Americans threw off royalty centuries ago, but as the campaign season kicks in, it’s clear having a family name that’s been part of the national political scene offers an edge – starting with fund raising. But it also presents some special challenges. We look at the role of political dynasties in the presidential race and how famous family names can help and hurt campaigns.
- Susan Page Washington bureau chief, USA Today.
- Reid Wilson Congress editor and chief political correspondent, Morning Consult.
- Barbara Perry Senior fellow and professor, Miller Center for Public Affairs, University of Virginia.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Today, Jeb Bush begins his formal campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Saturday, Hillary Clinton formally launched her campaign for the Democratic nomination. Both candidates have been referred to as being part of a political dynasty. Senator Rand Paul also seeking the GOP nomination (unintelligible) on a former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul.
MS. DIANE REHMToday, we talk about political families in America, how being a member of one has benefits and problems in campaigns. Joining me, Susan Page of USA Today, Reid Wilson of Morning Consult and by phone from Louisville, Kentucky, Barbara Perry of the University of Virginia. I do invite your comments and questions. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send an email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet.
MS. DIANE REHMAnd welcome to all of you.
MS. SUSAN PAGEGood morning.
MR. REID WILSONGood morning.
REHMGod to have you here. I'm going to start with you, Barbara Perry. We've had an email from Naomi asking us for a definition of a dynasty as well as marked differences between a family with three generations of influential politicians, senator, ambassador, CIA director, vice president, two presidents and another family that has one member who attained the presidency and his marital partner, once a senator, now a candidate for president.
REHMAre these both dynasties?
MS. BARBARA PERRYYes. They certainly are in the definition of dynasty and I'm taking this right out of Webster's dictionary. A general dynasty, and remember, we can have sports dynasties and musical dynasties and business dynasties, a powerful family that maintains its position for a considerable time, but that does get to the emailer's point, doesn't it, about generations versus perhaps one person and then someone else who's a marital partner.
MS. BARBARA PERRYI've actually defined presidential dynasty as one family member elected to the presidency and another who runs for the presidency.
PERRYThat would include the Clintons and the Bushes, but actually not the Pauls.
REHMInteresting, interesting. Not the Pauls.
PAGEWhy not? Why not the Pauls?
PERRYBecause not one of them has been elected president.
PAGEAll right. So you have to win to be in a dynasty.
PERRYOne person has to win, according to my definition.
REHMAll right. Susan Page, what are the advantages of clearly name recognition and dynasty?
PAGEHuge advantages. I mean, do you think Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton or Rand Paul would be considered credible candidates for presidential nominations and have been elected to other offices if not for the path cut by their family members before them? I think it's hard to envision any of them pursuing politics as a career without having been born into family in which politics played a part.
PAGEI mean, for Rand Paul, for instance, he's an eye doctor, right? I think Hillary Clinton didn't envision running for electoral office herself until she was well into her eighth year as first lady. It helps you with name recognition. It helps you with raising money and it means that from the moment you decide to go into politics, you have a network of people who -- of donors and voters who have supported your family in the past.
WILSONConsider the case of Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. One is the, you know, almost a dynasty himself, not quite by Barbara Perry's definition, but one was, you know, Mitt Romney, the nominee in 2012, had run in 2008, strongly considered running again in 2016 and yet, the moment Jeb Bush jumped in, all of the major donors who had been Mitt Romney's fuel for winning the Republican nomination in 2012, almost immediately jumped on board with Jeb Bush because of their long history supporting George W. Bush, supporting George H.W. Bush.
WILSONI mean, George H.W. Bush is 91 years old and he still sends out, what is it, 4 or 5,000 Christmas cards every year, you know, hand-signed Christmas cards to all of the donors that he's known over his, you know, 40 or 50 years in politics. So this is a -- the name recognition and the long history of contributions gives a candidate like Jeb Bush the ability to freeze out the last nominee of the Republican Party.
REHMAll right. I want to go back in history, Barbara Perry. Talk about the Adams. Talk about the Roosevelts, the Tafts.
PERRYWell, indeed. We have a long history in this country of presidential dynasties, per my definition of one member having been elected and then another member running again going back to the founding. So we start with John Adams and then come forward to his son, John Quincy Adams and then the Harrisons. Sadly, the ill-fated, shortened presidency of William Henry Harrison, but then onto his grandson, Benjamin Harrison.
PERRYAnd then, as we literally start into the 20th century with Teddy Roosevelt and we begin the Roosevelt dynasty that will take us all the way through to FDR. So I've looked at just the 20th century dynasties. Dynastic presidents, by my definition, have made up one-third of the presidents of the last 100 plus years, since 1901 till the president.
REHMWow. That's striking, Reid.
WILSONAnd it's not just the presidency, as well. It's Congress.
WILSONPolitics is a family business much more so in a way that -- much more so than other professions. I saw an interesting comment as I was doing some research for this. Somebody said you're vastly more likely -- I'm sorry. Let me say that again. Your United States senator is vastly more likely to be following in his father's -- usually his father's footsteps. His father was much more likely to have been a senator than, say, your plumber is likely to have had a father who was also a plumber.
WILSONSo, you know, about 9 percent of the House of Representatives over the last 100 years or so have been dynasties, have followed their father, their mother, their husband, their brother, their sister, whatever, in office. And about 15 percent of the U.S. Senate has been the product of a dynasty as well. Consider the members of the Senate. The Senate actually, by the way, just got a lot less dynastic.
WILSONConsider, in 2014, the Democrats who lost reelection, Mark Begich of Alaska, his father was a member of Congress. Mark Udahl from Colorado, his father was a member of Congress. Mary Landrieu, her father was the head of the Democratic establishment in Louisiana. Mark Pryor, his father was a senator and Kay Hagan is...
REHMSo not a good year.
WILSONNot a good year for dynasties back in 2014. I wonder if that's a signal, an omen for 2016.
PAGEYou know, but I also think if your parent is a plumber, you're probably more likely to be a plumber than if your parent is not a plumber. I mean, in a way, it's not surprising that people who grow up in political families, familiar with how politics works, would choose to go into the same field as their parents.
REHMBarbara, do you agree?
PERRYOh, I do agree. We call it the family business. I've written quite a bit on the Kennedys, for example. And looking at Senator Edward Kennedy, as a teenager, he was so anxious to get involved in his brother Jack's 1946 run for the Congress the first time Jack ran. So it really -- I think it not only passes through the DNA, that's the nature part of it, it's the nurture as well, that they see it in the family.
PERRYThey're generally excited about it and they want to be a part of it.
REHMWhy do these political dynasties exist, Barbara?
PERRYOh, I think it's human nature. We say, of course, in this country that we don't like royalty, although we are constantly looking at the royal family of England and looking at the royal babies who are born and looking at the People magazine covers and looking at the documentaries. I think it's human nature to want to go with the familiar, oftentimes.
PERRYAnd to realize that if we look at these dynasties from the, again, 20th century into the 21st, Roosevelts through the Bushes, these are all highly qualified people. They come from competency in business and in politics. They come from Harvard and Yale. They're well-trained. They're well educated. And people want competency in the government.
REHMThey also look for stability.
WILSONThat’s true and I think in this era of sort of uncertainty with the current politics and the partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, I think the two, you know, there is some benefit to Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush running because they're both able to point to a time when things were different. When George H.W. Bush was in office, he had a close working relationship with the Democrats who ran Congress. When Bill Clinton was in office, it was a time of economic prosperity and, granted, he didn't have a great relationship with, say, Newt Gingrich or the other people who tried to impeach him, but, by and large, it was a time when government worked.
WILSONAnd at a moment now where we've gone through about 15 years of partisan gridlock and Democrats and Republicans increasingly sniping at each other, there is, at least, some benefit to being able to say when my family was in charge, thing were better, at least in terms of politics and the economy.
PAGEAnd, of course, that's one thing that Hillary Clinton said in her launch or re-launch of her presidential campaign on Saturday. She said we're in a gridlock -- I'm paraphrasing here. We're in a gridlock situation. It doesn't have to be that way. There's a way to manage through gridlock and get things done. And that was, I thought, an allusion to the fact that Bill Clinton was able to get things done even as he was being impeached, although Barack Obama has had considerably more problems.
REHMBut you know, Barbara, you're in Kentucky now, home of Senator and presidential candidate, Ron Paul. Politico headlined a recent article like this, "Rand Paul Has A Daddy Issue. The Irony Of The Senators Rise, His Father Made, Ron, Made It All Possible, But Now He Needs To Go Away."
PERRYThis is the downside of dynasties. So we started out with the benefits. For every benefit, like so much in life, there is a downside. So you get the name, you get the branding, you get the money, you get the network, but let's start with the name. You get the baggage and that is either unpopularity or scandal perhaps.
REHMAll right. And we'll talk more about those other advantages and disadvantages with you. Do call us, 800-433-8850. Let us know your thoughts.
REHMAnd welcome back. We're talking in this hour about political dynasties, how being part of a family with great name recognition may be a terrific plus but does come with some downsides. Here's an email from John Denton -- it's John in Denton, Texas, who says, "Dynasty in the American political process is nothing more or less than a function of plutocracy, a country that's ruled by the richest people." Does that statement hold up, Barbara Perry?
PERRYIt's funny that John should mention that. I was just chatting with friends last night here in Louisville and we brought up the term plutocracy. And I think if we go back to my description of the six people, minus the Clintons, in these political dynasties of the 20th century, as I say, they're all from wealth. They're all from the Northeast in their roots, except for the Tafts, I'm including the Tafts there. And they are all Ivy League trained. So there is a certain plutocratic element here.
PAGEAnd in fact, that's a point I think Hillary Clinton was trying to make on Saturday when she talked a lot about her childhood, her mother's very difficult road and the fact that she grew up in a very middle-class family, although she, you know, she and her husband, obviously, have achieved incredible power and actually some remarkable wealth. But this is clearly a line of attack by their opponents, of both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. You've got Martin O'Malley, the former governor of Maryland, talking about the presidency is not a crown to be passed between two families. And that strikes a chord with, I think, with a lot of voters.
REHMAnd, Susan, the day after Hillary Clinton came out with her big speech there on Roosevelt Island, a featured guest on CNN, was Bill Clinton?
PAGEAnd I think this, you know, this was an issue for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 campaign. Bill Clinton went out and campaigned for her. He said some things that rubbed voters the wrong way. And she had to go in and try to recover from that. And I think it -- with Bill Clinton and his desire to talk about policy and his work as the head of the Clinton Global Initiative, it's going to be hard to get him off stage.
REHMDo you agree?
WILSONOh, absolutely. I mean this is -- both Clinton and Bush have been dogged by questions about their own family. I mean, this is, again, one of the drawbacks is you're essentially have -- you're forced to answer for things that you didn't do. Jeb Bush did not handle it terribly well when he was asked whether or not he would have gone into Iraq. He hemmed and hawed for a few days, refused to answer it, then gave some strange answers that didn't quite satisfy voters. And then finally, after the urging of his advisers, came out and said, No, I would not have invaded Iraq knowing what we know now.
WILSONClinton, on the other hand, has dealt with questions about the Foundation, questions about her time at the State Department and whether some of the donors to the Foundation have -- were seeking to influence her official actions at the State Department. So in both cases, they're -- the dynasty requires them to answer for their -- for the others, the people who have come before. Rather than, say, somebody like Marco Rubio, who the only time he's had to answer for his family was when, apparently, his wife got a bunch of parking tickets, which wasn't a terribly big deal, but...
REHMAnd, Barbara, you say the candidates need to find the sweet spot with regard to relatives who are part of the national political scene.
PERRYYes, I do say that, particularly in their ideology and their policy and their platforms. And I do call it that sweet spot because I think Bush 43, George W. Bush, found that sweet spot between Reagan conservatism and his dad, Bush 41's more traditional, moderate Northeast conservatism of the Republican Party. And with Bush 43's compassionate conservatism, I think he found that. And it remains to be seen whether brother Jeb, exclamation point, will find that as well.
WILSONThat's another fascinating point is that both of these candidates, Clinton and Bush, are having to run in dramatically different parties than their families had to run in. Bill Clinton's promise was the, you know, the era of big government is over -- small government and efficient government. And here Hillary Clinton has been talk -- has been essentially name-checking all of the new coalitions within the Democratic Party. Clinton -- Bill Clinton, himself, signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Hillary Clinton is in favor of same-sex marriage. Jeb Bush, on the other hand, is running 16 years, 15 years, after his brother ran in a Republican Party that wanted the establishment candidate to win, that really enjoyed the fact that this was a family name and shut out the maverick, John McCain.
WILSONWell, now we've got a Tea Party that wants to primary John McCain, their eventual presidential nominee in 2008, who thinks that compassionate conservatism means big-government conservatism. These are much different parties than any of the previous generations that these dynasties had to run under.
REHMAnd what about the Iraq War, Susan? How much is that going to play in Jeb Bush's campaign? I think the Iraq war is a bigger issue for him in a general election than it'll be in a primary election. In the -- in the Republican Primaries, they're -- the Iraq War, you know, the -- Americans are opposed to the Iraq War. They think the Iraq War was a mistake, the majority of Americans. But that's especially true among Democrats and Independents. Republicans are more likely to think the Iraq was worth fighting. So I'm inclined to think it's not a huge issue for him, unless and until he gets the Republican nomination and then it becomes a bigger issue.
PAGEAlthough, in a way, both Hillary and Jeb might like running against each other when it comes to the Iraq War because it also means that Hillary Clinton, in a general election, will be less hurt by her vote in favor of authorizing the Iraq War.
PAGEBecause it was his brother who was waging it. So he is, you know, in a more culpable position, I think. I think it makes it less likely to be a force...
REHMBut she voted for it.
PAGEBut she voted for it and we're going to hear a lot about that in the Democratic Primaries. You already hear that from Bernie Sanders, who voted against it, and criticism from Martin O'Malley and let's not forget Lincoln Chafee, who is a kind of political dynasty because he followed his...
WILSONThere you go.
PAGE...his father in Rhode Island politics.
WILSONAnd this is a broader point about political dynasties, is that elections are about the future. When presidential candidates are talking about what they would do, how they would, you know, take the country forward, they're talking about the future. They're not talking about what happened in the past. And here we've got, you know, if Jeb Bush is not the Republican nominee, almost no matter who else it could be will be a contrast with Hillary Clinton because they will be a younger generation talking about the future, whereas, Clinton is going back to the past. It's not an accident that in every presidential election in U.S. history, we've never elected a younger president and then had the succeeding president be from the previous generation.
REHMInteresting. But, Barbara, going back to the 20th century and the dynasties that you talked about, did any of those candidates have to distance themselves from the prior candidate, as you're seeing happen here?
PERRYI think that George Bush, II, I'll call him Bush 43, George W. Bush -- I think that he distanced himself from his dad on taxes, not only in the campaign but right off the bat, that was his first legislative initiative. And let's remember that that was one of the reasons that his dad lost the reelection campaign in 1992 was the deal that he cut with the Democrats in Congress and went ahead and raised taxes. Which, by the way, now, in the distance of a quarter century, George Bush, George H. W. Bush, Bush 41, received the Profile in Courage Award from the Kennedy Library Foundation for having showed political courage. But that was still a live issue for Bush 43 in 2000.
PAGEYou know, I think that -- that George W. Bush had a much easier time than Jeb Bush has today in dealing with his predecessor. Because while George H. W. Bush had lost his bid for reelection, he was a highly regarded person. He wasn't a person who'd been really polarizing in terms of Democrats and Republicans. He had handled the end of the Cold War in a way that people respected. Although they thought maybe he didn't focus enough on domestic concerns after that. So he wasn't a big negative for George W. Bush. And, in fact, that was a big reason I think George W. Bush was taken so seriously from the very start as a potential president.
PAGEDifferent situation now with Jeb Bush. George W. Bush is an enormously polarizing figure, in large part because of the Iraq War, and I think poses problems for his brother that his brother didn't face with their father.
REHMAnd, of course, Jeb Bush has repeatedly said, I am my own man.
WILSONAnd yet he has refused, I think wisely, to draw contrasts with his brother. I mean, that's a very difficult thing to do. There's not a lot of self interest in doing so, in continuing the conversation that everybody's going to want to have in a general election and, frankly, in a primary election as well. I think the big problem for Jeb Bush is that not only is he not -- not only was George W. Bush not terribly popular among the general electorate at large, he's also not a favorite of the conservative base. As I said, compassionate conservatism -- after the about 2006, 2008 Congressional elections -- that became the symbol for big government within those conservative circles.
WILSONThey didn't want to hear about compassionate conservatism because they wanted to hear about small government conservatism.
PAGEI -- just note, Jeb Bush's logo came out yesterday. It does not include his last name. It's Jeb, exclamation point.
PAGEAnd when he announces today, his father and his brother will not be in Miami to watch him.
WILSONAnd Hillary's logo is just an H. It's...
WILSON...there's no C involved.
REHMYes. You know, but Bill Clinton was elected president 23 years ago. Some of the millennials were not even born yet. So how significant is that, Reid?
WILSONI think -- I don't think it's that significant because Bill Clinton has been a very public ex-president. He's been on the national stage. The Foundation, itself, has done a lot of good work and has gotten a lot of attention. He has served as the, you know, U.S. liaison to the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia with George H. W. Bush, and then the U.S. liaison -- the U.N. special envoy to Haiti along with George W. Bush. So, talk about dynasties, it's just all the Bushes and the Clintons all together. Which, by the way, brings up the point that only -- aside from 2012, a Clinton or a Bush has run for president in every -- or vice president, in every election since 1980.
WILSONSo, that we -- when H. W. ran in '80, he was the vice president up through his presidency when Clinton ran. We had a Bush run in 2000 and 2004. A Clinton ran in 2008, although she didn't get the Democratic nomination. 2012, the only break we got.
REHMSo what about millennials, Barbara Perry.
PERRYI think that's a very wise point to raise, Diane, that you do have a significant segment of the population, though the segment of the population that votes in the least numbers, or at least at the lower rates, than the middle age and baby boomers and seniors. So this will be in some ways a blank slate for them. And that's probably good for both Hillary and Jeb.
PAGEYeah, I think that's -- I think that's true. I do think that George H. W. Bush is a distant figure, that he seems historic to voters, as opposed to someone who's on the scene. But even though George W. Bush has kind of stayed off stage since he left the presidency, his presidency is pretty fresh in people's minds. And Bill Clinton, you can't miss him.
REHMWhat about the women's vote among those millennials, women who say, it's time for a woman.
PAGEI think this is a huge advantage for Hillary Clinton. And I think back -- let's think back to the Barack Obama election in 2008, where his -- the fact that he was going to be a breakthrough candidate helped him with African-Americans but it also helped him with a lot of whites. I think that the fact that she would be the first woman is something that lends some excitement. I think it, in a way, counters the idea that she's of a previous generation. You know, the fact that she's 67 now, she'd be 69 on inauguration day -- but the fact that she would be the first woman, gives it a kind of energy she might not otherwise have had.
WILSONAnd she said on Saturday at her big rally that she wouldn't be the youngest president, but she would be the youngest woman president, which is a big deal. And I think the Clinton Campaign, itself, thinks that that sort of history-making aspect of it is going to help her make some inroads with voters that Barack Obama was not able to. Back in 2012, President Obama lost the white vote by a 59 percent to 39 percent margin over Mitt Romney. That's not going to be the same with Hillary Clinton on the ticket, no matter who else is on the other side. We've got both parties really trying to break into the other side's base right now.
WILSONHillary Clinton, her strategists think, are going to be able to get a lot of the especially older white women voters, who were not going to vote for President Obama, who might end up voting for her to make history.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We've got lots of callers. Let's see what they have to say. First to Truro, Mass. Richard, you're on the air.
RICHARDOh, hi. Thank you. Yes. First of all, to me it seems that calling two people who've been in office 40 years apart, like the Harrisons, or who are fourth cousins, like the Roosevelts, a dynasty, is misusing the term. A dynasty implies generation after generation being in power. Secondly, somebody on your panel said that people are attracted to their confidence and that's why they're going to vote for -- or they're likely to vote for people that were following their ancestors. Well, George W. Bush was one of the least confident presidents we've had in 200 years. So, I hope...
REHMWell, you know, that may be your opinion.
RICHARDWell, yeah, and a lot of other people, too.
REHMBut there are a lot of people who think he was just fine. But to the question of dynasty, Barbara Perry.
PERRYRight. Well, I'm going to stick with my Webster's dictionary, which does not say, each generation has to follow another one. We're not using the British Royal Family version of dynasty. But, again, dynastic in a broader sense. Back to George W. Bush and popularity, Susan is so correct to say a very polarizing president. But I just read in The New York Times a couple of weeks ago that for the first time since the early 2000s, George W. Bush has popped up above 50 percent in his approval rating as an ex-president. Americans are very forgiving of ex-presidents and they tend to rise in popularity as time goes on.
REHMVery interesting. Let's go to Harrisburg, Pa. Hi, Gloria. You're on the air.
GLORIAHi, Diane. First of all, I should preface this by saying, I've just returned from my 50th reunion at Vassar. So I'm pumped up with feminist energy. One thing I'd like to say is that one of the dangers of making this kind of comparison -- say the Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, as both members of a dynasty, that they're made into two similar units. And Hillary's case is very different than Jeb's. Jeb Bush's first job was in a bank, a Baker Bank in Texas. It was part of that whole political system in Texas. Hillary Clinton is not running for office just because she's married to Bill Clinton. Everyone who knew her as an undergraduate, she's an absolute leader as an undergraduate -- active, you know, the president of the college, active in feminist issues, went to Yale Law School to be a social and political activist on -- for the women, feminist issues and family. She's been working for children since she was at Yale Law School.
REHMBoy, she ought to go to work for Hillary Clinton, don't you think?
WILSONVery, very possibly. And I'll just mention a few things that Jeb Bush has done that Hillary Clinton had not. First of all, he's -- he has lost an election for office. His first election in 1994, when he ran for governor of Florida, everybody thought that the guy running for governor of Texas, a guy named George W. Bush, was the one running the quixotic campaign. He ended up winning, Bush ended up losing -- Jeb ended up losing in a surprise. He came back four years later, won the job. He's served as governor for two terms. That's not nothing. And he, by the way, did a lot of it without the help of George H. W. Bush, who had -- who was staying out of the limelight a lot back in '94 and '98.
WILSONSo I think that it's fair to say that they are similar in that they've both got a leg up. Hillary Clinton would not have run and won a Senate race in New York State -- one of the most expensive places to win -- in 2000, had her husband not been the sitting President of the United States who campaigned for her more than a few times.
REHMAll right. Short break here. Your emails, your calls when we come back.
REHMAnd welcome back. We'll go right to the phones to Jerry in O'Fallon, Missouri. You're on the air.
JERRYGood morning. I find it interesting, when you study businesses, family businesses, generally, they start to fall apart in the third generation. The first generation does the hard work, the second generation expands on that, but then you have children who have grown up in a higher level, higher strategy, and they kind of earn the pedigree without really working for it. And I think when I look back at, you know, we had John McCain, whose grandfather was an Admiral, his father was an Admiral.
JERRYTo graduated fifth in his class, fifth from the bottom at the Naval Academy. And George W. Bush, whose grandfather was a very powerful Senator, his father, of course, we know his background. And even given the fact that the grandfather Bush initially opposed entering into World War II, his son served and served in combat. And then we had, you know, George W. Bush, who, you know, probably until the age of 40, really didn't look like he was going to accomplish much at all. So...
REHMOkay, so where are you going with this? You're saying that the third generation simply can't make it. Is that your point?
JERRYNo. Not that they can't make it, but they do have, as the old saying is, your born of third. Don't pretend, or believe, that you hit a triple.
WILSONYeah. Although I will say that the one, you know, Jeb Bush is slightly different from George W. Bush, in that he went off to another state, and that's not something that a lot of dynasties sort of do. George H.W. Bush, by the way, did the same thing. He was in Connecticut. He left, ran for office in Texas. He was asked by, he was accused of carpet bagging when he ran for a US Senate seat in Texas. And he said, I couldn't help where I was born. I wanted to be near my mother at the time.
WILSONSo, you know, at least Jeb went to another state and got elected there. Rather than simply than simply inheriting a seat that his family had previously owned.
PERRYYes, Diane, the caller is correct, though, I think, about the Roosevelts. Because we see FDR's sons, who, two of them made it to Congress, but then were not successful beyond that. And even with the Kennedy's, multiple generations have not always been successful running for Governor of Maryland, Governor of Massachusetts. So, there is something to, perhaps, the steam running out of the dynasty at some point.
PAGEYou know, Steve Hess did a book about American political dynasties, and he tried to analyze exactly how much it's worth, to have, to be in a dynasty, and according to his calculations, which are based on what happened in history, if your parent, and this was generally fathers, cause until recently, not that many women in elected office, if your father was in Congress, it was enough to get you elected to a city council. And if your father was President, it was enough to get you elected to the House. But to go farther than that, you were really on your own.
REHMVery interesting. All right, let's go to Nicholas in Miami, Florida. Hi, you're on the air.
NICHOLASHi, yes, I'm Nicholas (word?) I'm a first time caller and I'm also a millennial. I just heard you guys, your comments on the fact that Hillary Clinton, being a woman, really helps her with young, millennial women. And other, just women in general.
REHMWe don't know.
NICHOLASYeah. I would just like to point out the dangers in voting for someone based on their sex. I know plenty of women who are going to vote for Hillary Clinton, even though they do not know anything about her own -- her politics. I asked them. They don't know. In fact, there's a couple YouTube videos about it. And I'm just here to point out, it's very dangerous to vote for someone based on their sex, whether they're male or female.
PAGEHey Nicholas, it's not automatic that she's going to get these votes. We're going to have a whole year to find out what her positions are on political issues, a year and more. And by then, they'll know. And it's not -- I think that the opportunity is there for her to tap a feeling among women that it's time for a woman to be President. But I think it is not guaranteed. It's not a lead pipe and she's gonna have to take advantage of that opportunity.
REHMShe's gonna have to convince people. Barbara.
PERRYYes, and isn't it interesting, Diane, that Hillary Clinton did not stress her gender in 2008, portraying herself as a potentially strong Commander in Chief, but that she did, on Saturday, in her next roll out, that she did. But let's also point out that people do tend to vote for the person who's like them. 83 percent of Catholics voted for John Kennedy in 1960, but not 100 percent. But the caller's right. Presumably, we should vote for Presidents because of their merit, not their demographic qualities.
PAGEYou know, it's interesting, I interviewed Hillary Clinton last year when her book came out, and one of the things she said in the interview was that she thinks that things have really changed for women running for office since she ran in 2008. And it is much more possible to talk about your gender and have that be an asset, as opposed to something that raised questions about you. Because of the number of women who now, record number of women, for instance, elected to the Senate, voters are more comfortable with considering women for these very, very top jobs, including the Presidency.
REHMYou know, it was interesting. Before she spoke on Saturday, there was a lot of publicity, to the effect she was going to talk a great deal about her mother. Her mother's hard life, how she had been left, virtually, as an orphan, how she had worked as a maid. That didn't come out so much. How come?
PAGEWell, you know, I think they previewed it as being a big part of her speech. It wasn't as big a part as we thought it would be, but she did talk about it. And it is a very -- it's a very American story, in that a woman, a girl who is basically abandoned by her parents has to find her own way in life, finally does. Her daughter is a US Senator, a Secretary of State and now running for President. I mean, I thought it was very touching, and I assume that she has -- I think Hillary Clinton may have trouble talking about personal things like that.
PAGEIt's kind of not her natural instinct to do, but I thought it was pretty touching.
REHMWhat did you think, Reid?
WILSONI think it demonstrates a couple of things. First of all, it demonstrates the difference between Hillary Clinton and natural politicians like Barack Obama, who talked about his family non-stop, wrote a book about it. Bill Clinton, himself, the man from Hope and growing up with a stepfather and because his father had abandoned his mother. And we haven't really heard a lot of that from Clinton, from Hillary Clinton. What we did hear was a laundry list of policy ideas that really seem to hit every base that she needed to hit for the Democratic base.
WILSONI've been struck lately, as she's rolled out this campaign, as she's held these events, or at least listening tours around the country, how much more progressive she is portraying herself than the Hillary Clinton who ran in 2008. She is laying out a much more liberal agenda than the one she laid out in 2008.
REHMWhat about her statement on the Trans Pacific trade Pact?
PAGENow, you'll have to interpret for me what her position is on that, because it is very hard to figure out. She is trying to dodge this in every way she can. Because she is on record as calling this the gold standard of trade agreements. I think she is probably, in her heart, supportive of free trade agreements, but the party has moved pretty far to the left on this issue. And the issue that Bernie Sanders is making the most headway on would be the issue of his opposition to this trade pact. So, she is trying to thread a needle where you cannot really determine where she's going to end up.
WILSONIn 2008, Hillary Clinton was on the wrong side of the Democratic base on the one issue that mattered to them the most, and that was the war in Iraq. In that entire campaign, she was determined not to apologize for her vote, I think because she wanted to protect herself, inoculate herself from what she saw as Republican attacks on a woman candidate, you know, switching her vote. And you know, not being tough. And that, by the way, has fortunately disappeared now. She is really trying now to avoid being on the wrong side of the Democratic base on a couple of key issues.
WILSONIncome inequality, she called for a 15 dollar minimum wage in her speech on Saturday. And trade deals. Labor unions who could make a serious problem for her in the Democratic primary. So when she gave her answer on TPA, TAA, all these trade deals.
WILSONShe mentioned Nancy Pelosi's name twice. Pelosi voted against the TAA and TPA deals. She did not mention Barack Obama's name once.
REHMAnd what about Rand Paul? Where does he stand?
WILSONUh, Paul is, did he vote? I can't remember how he -- he must have voted for it in the Senate. I think every Republican voted for it in the Senate. I could be wrong on that.
WILSONBut he has his own dynastic things to answer for. You know, his father, Ron Paul, who again, as Susan said earlier, has given him the entrée into the race, has made his the national political figure, is the guy who says a lot of stuff that is not in the mainstream. And that is going to scare a lot of Republican voters, especially those who are -- who pay more and more attention to national security, they may not think that Rand Paul is their guy.
PERRYI would like to come to a point and just get my colleagues comment on this. Is it possible that Jeb Bush we'll be looking for his speech this afternoon, is it possible that he's the Edward Kennedy of the Bush family in the sense that he's great on policy, his video yesterday, that he released, was all about the policies, the work he had done as Governor of Florida for two terms. But that he is -- the expectations of his family and some of his party outstrip his own desire to be President, as was the case with Edward Kennedy.
PAGEYou know, I think it's possible. Now, Edward Kennedy was a terrific politician, and terrific with a crowd. And gave a wonderful speech, gave some of the best speeches we've heard in modern times. But Jeb Bush is not a natural pol the way his brother is. You know, his brother would walk into a political room and make -- and really electrify it and give a great speech and connect with people. And Jeb Bush is a much more reserved figure in a way that I think could be a problem for him.
PAGEHe needs -- to win the Presidency, you have to really convince people that you want to do it.
REHMAll right, let's go to Tampa, Florida. Rory, you're on the air.
RORYThank you, Diane. A couple things about Jeb. Number one, education being such an issue today, and he was the gentleman that was in charge here as governor, and he's got the education thing in a debacle here right now. Number two, he was also Governor when they enacted a program down here where, it's Duke Energy now, but they actually laid attacks on the people here to have to pre-tax us to pay for power plants that would be built in the future that never got built and lost billions of dollars.
RORYAnd number three, just yesterday's paper showed, since the Republicans, which have been in charge of this state for 20 years and he was Governor for eight of those. They have only increased the GDP in this state by 2,000 dollars output in 20 years. Compared to California, and other states, we are in the ancient times almost.
WILSONSo, first of all, let me just correct something I said earlier. Rand Paul voted against TPA. He was not in favor of it. So, my apologies, but the caller brings up a really interesting point. In all of my travels around the country, when I'm talking to conservative activists and folks who are going to decide Jeb Bush's fate in a Republican primary, there's one thing and one thing alone that they hate more than the Affordable Care Act, and that's Common Core Common Core is something that animates the conservative base more than anything else.
WILSONI mean, I think if they could choose between ending Common Core and impeaching President Obama, they would keep President Obama in office and give him a third term if he could just end Common Core. They hate it that much. I'm only being a little bit facetious there. But Jeb Bush has been an unabashed supporter of Common Core. If fact, when Republican governors are trying to defend their Common Core systems, they have called in Jeb Bush in the past to come explain to conservative activists whey they should support this thing. So, he hasn't just been supportive, he's been actively campaigning for it.
WILSONAnd he has determined that he's not going to switch his position. He's not going to give other candidates, others of his rivals, the opportunity to say that he's a flip flopper who doesn't really believe in things.
PAGESuch a contrast in what Jeb Bush is doing from Hillary Clinton. Because Jeb Bush is calculating that he can hold his positions on Common Core and on immigration, which put him at great odds with a lot of Republicans. And still get the nomination and he'll be in a better situation to run in the general election. Hillary Clinton is moving significantly left in this election. That's gonna help her with Democratic primary voters. If she gets the nomination, which I think we all assume she will, we'll see if that is a problem for her in the general election.
REHMYou know, I think we should not make assumptions about who's gonna get this nomination. I think that it really is still wide open and we shall see. And you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. And Caroline writes in, saying, what I'd like to know, and this is something a lot of people would like to know, is what Bill Clinton would do in the White House if Hillary becomes President. I can't imagine he will not get involved in politics, policy making, et cetera. Do you want to comment, Barbara?
PERRYYes, I will. As the historian here. And that is Bill Clinton will follow in the footsteps, as First Gentleman, or First Dude, as some call him, in the footsteps of First Ladies. And perhaps First Ladies in a big way, and that is that he would be, in my view, the Eleanor Roosevelt of First Gentlemen. And you're right, Caroline, he would not want to stay out of politics. He'd have to try and find that fine line. But certainly, he cannot be out of the spotlight, and he would want to play a major role.
PAGEWe really saw the complications of that, though, in Bill Clinton's first term, when Hillary Clinton took a big role on policy, on healthcare, and it was an enormous complication. And some of the histories that were written afterwards said it was harder for his other aides to counter some of the things they thought were going wrong on Bill Clinton's healthcare plan because his wife was the one running it. I think we got historical precedence for what would happen if Bill -- if Hillary Clinton's elected and Bill Clinton is the spouse of the President, both because he'd be male and because he'd be an ex-President.
PAGEAnd, you know, opportunities, but man, you talk about some of the chances for complications, unforeseen consequences, they'll be there.
WILSONYou would hate to be the Vice President in that because you know you're not going to be the last person in a room with the President making that decision when she's got Bill Clinton standing right there next to her. I think there is a -- there's a recognition within the Clinton world of what they, what some people call the Bill Problem, the Bill Situation. But the fact is, he has to be managed. I mean, he is so -- he is such a political animal that he can't help but be involved in a campaign or a policy position or something like this.
WILSONThat did not serve her terribly well back in 2008 when Bill Clinton went to South Carolina and made what some people interpreted as some racially charged comments about President Obama.
REHMDo you think he learned his lesson?
WILSONThe Clinton people think he learned his lesson, and that, by the way, is one of the reasons that they hired the team they did. Some of the senior folks, Robby Mook, the campaign manager, talk to Clinton frequently. And John Podesta, his former Chief of Staff, who's now Hillary's campaign chairman, they talk to him frequently. They're able to sort of reign him in, deal with his sort of, maybe out of date political...
WILSON...yeah, exuberance is a good way to put it. His out of date political ideas and...
REHMLike what? Like what?
WILSONA couple of years ago, back in the 2010 mid-term elections, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden got the idea that the Democratic national committee should print up a bunch of leaflets. And talk about how great the Obama Presidency was going. Leaflets aren't the way you practice politics anymore. That's a sort of an idea that would have come around in 1994 or 1996 when he was...
REHMSo, we're not going to see leaflets in Hillary's campaign?
WILSONWell, we're not gonna see big explainer books on policy. You might see, you know, things that are dropped off at the door with volunteers who are checking things off on an iPad.
REHMAll right, we'll have to leave it there. Reid Wilson of the new startup, Morning Consult. Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief of USA Today and Barbara Perry, Senior Fellow and Professor at the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. Thank you all, so much.
WILSONThanks a lot, Diane.
PERRYThank you, Diane.
REHMAnd thanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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