Monday, December 17, 2007
Presidential Politics, and the Numbers
--Gary Tuchman, 360 Correspondent


Twenty years ago this week, when I worked for a local station in West Palm Beach, I interviewed George Herbert Walker Bush for my first time. He was in his second term as Ronald Reagan's Vice President, getting ready for the 1988 Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary as he sought the GOP presidential nomination.

An unpredictable and unprecedented era was set off by Mr. Bush's White House victory. Since that win two decades ago, we have only had two families in the White House.

The last five terms read like the name of a law firm: Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, and Bush. And if Hillary Clinton is lucky enough to win two terms, that "firm's" name would be Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton and Clinton. If that happens, there will be 28 consecutive years of the same two families in the Oval Office.

But if you include the senior Bush's eight years as Vice President, that would be 36 years, which means that the two familes would have one of the two highest offices in the land for 15 percent of the entire history of the United States! (That's 36 Bush and Clinton years divided by the age of the U.S., if Hillary completes a second term, which would be 240.) And who knows if Jeb might want to go for broke one day!

The purpose of my political-mathematical exercise is not to infer this is bad, good, or neutral. I think it's just interesting and ironic this is happening in a nation whose origins include shaking off the yoke of royal family rule.
Posted By CNN: 12:14 PM ET
  6 Comments
I think we need to wipe our slate clean from them all and start anew with someone not "in the family"! I mean look where they have gotten us so far!!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 12:29 PM ET
AND it's interesting that we scoff at the Hugo Chavezs of the world for trying to appoint themselves "presidente for life" when we in the US are close to having a 28-year family dynasty (albeit two very different families!)

p.s. After Jeb Bush, why don't we go for Chelsea Clinton ?...
Posted By Anonymous xtina chicago IL : 12:30 PM ET
Gary/AC360:
Yes, you had my head spinning on the Bush and Clinton scenarios.

For many years it was the Kennedys. Now it is the Clintons and the Bush family. It has been quite a soap opera even without the Kennedys.

Both families are powerhouses of money and political influences. It is the fight between the liberals and the conservatives from one extreme to another. Maybe this is why the country is in so much trouble because it has become a boxing match between dynasties rather than a government for the people.

No more Bush or Clintons. They have done enough damage to this country.
Posted By Blogger Sharon from Indy : 12:30 PM ET
I don't see any big mystery or conspiracy here, Gary. Careers run in families. If your parent or close relative is a doctor, for instance, you are far more likely to pursue a medical career than if you grew up without medical relatives - it's on your radar earlier and you are less likely to consider it an impossible dream. Acting, law enforcement, nature conservation, raising thoroughbreds... heck, sponge diving or plumbing - if any of your folks do it, the odds are greatly increased that you will too.

That Bush II and Clinton II rose to the top of the political heap is mainly a product of their respective networks. In Bush II's case at least, it was clearly not native ability...
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 12:42 PM ET
I think this is a very interesting observation. Roosevelt served for three consecutive terms -- and then the Repubolicans made a law making two terms the limit for Presidents.
We are living in a world now, where name recognition and identity politics rule. These two particular families have won office based on those two ideas.

I believe that Americans should push for candidates who have more varied ideas on how to move the country forward, as opposed to how to rally a base. Identity politics will always keep the same people or the same kinds of people in office indefinately.

Interesting thoughts.
Madeliene
Posted By Anonymous Madeliene; Atlanta, Georgia : 12:45 PM ET
Gary:

Glad to know you spent some time working in Florida! I hope you are here today. The weather is sunny and great!

"And who knows if Jeb might want to go for broke one day!"

We have discussed this so many times down South here. Where's Jeb these days? You don't even see or hear from him here in Florida. The St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald have dropped him.

Has he retired from politics kicking back listening to Buffet in Key West or his waiting in the wings for 3 more years?

(Let's do the math on that one. Three years to rest and then 2 years to campaign.)

Only time will tell about Florida's Jeb!
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 12:50 PM ET
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