Dynasties

DYNASTIES…. To reiterate a point from the other day, I’m not a fan of family dynasties. It’s a predictable political dynamic — candidates with key family connections benefit from high name recognition and a network of supporters — and it’s been part of the American tradition for a very long time, but it’s an unfortunate characteristic of the system.

But this piece about Democrats “embracing dynasty politics,” from the Politico’s Charles Mahtesian, seems to miss the mark.

Barack Obama’s … secretary of state will be Hillary Clinton, the wife of the former president. The Senate seat she’ll vacate is being pursued by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of a president and the niece of two senators. Joe Biden’s Senate seat may go to his son Beau. Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, Obama’s pick for Interior Secretary, could end up being replaced by his brother, Rep. John Salazar.

And Obama’s own seat could go to the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. — less likely now in light of developments in the Rod Blagojevich scandal — or to the daughter of Illinois’ current House speaker.

The U.S. Senate could end up looking like an American version of the House of Lords — and Republicans have begun to take notice.

“Democrats seem to lack a common man who can just win a good, old-fashioned election,” said Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

First, some of this family-dynasty talk is pretty speculative. The Politico piece relies on the mere possibility of Kennedy, Salazar, and Jackson appointments to bolster its argument, not to mention the notion that Beau Biden may or may not run in 2010.

Second, I’m not sure what this has to do with Obama, exactly. He picked Hillary Clinton, who’s married to a former president, but who’s clearly qualified in her own right. Indeed, Mahtesian noted that Obama is “hardly responsible” for dynasty politics, and his presidential ticket is actually the “first winning ticket since 1976 without a son or a grandson of a U.S. senator on it.”

But it’s the Republican criticism that I find especially rich. We didn’t hear too much complaining about dynasties when the party rallied in support of Elizabeth Dole and John Sununu this year. And with a Senate vacancy in Florida coming up, Republicans are rallying behind Jeb Bush (son and brother of presidents) and Connie Mack IV (son and grandson of senators, and great-grandson and great-great grandson of congressmen).

Indeed, we are, in fact, talking about the party of George W. Bush. Do Republicans really want to talk about the perils of dynasty politics?

Tom Reynolds thinks Democrats can’t find “a common man” to win “a good, old-fashioned election.” I seem to recall a point — I believe it was a month ago — when Democrats had all kinds of folks winning quite a few good, old-fashioned elections.