Michael Barone on Royalism in American Politics

Will we really be going Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton? Michael Barone had this story in the WSJ on the emerging tendency towards political dynasty in American politics:

Not that anyone assumes that family members are all alike. It would not do for candidate Bush in 2000 and for candidate Clinton today to claim to be clones of his father and her husband. Rather, candidate Bush made comments about his mother's fearsomeness, and candidate Clinton's "let's chat" suggests that she is more of a listener and less of a nonstop talker than her husband. So the trend to royalism may not be all bad. It does give some candidates an unfair advantage over others. But let's face it: Only four of the 300 million living Americans has been president and probably only 10 or 12 more ever will be. We need as much knowledge of our presidential candidates as we can get and, if we get some of it by knowing their families as closely as we know the families of recent occupants of the White House, so be it. As Bagehot put it, "The best reason why Monarchy is a strong government is, that it is an intelligible government. The mass of mankind understand it, and they hardly anywhere in the world understand any other."

Read the whole thing.


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Dear Blogger,

feb 2. live webcast of debate about the future of religion in american politics offers bloggers opportunity to react in real time

Michael Barone, Michael Novak, Marvin Olasky & More Discuss Religions Place in American Politics at Regent U.s Ronald Reagan Symposium

Ø Event Webcast Live 9 a.m. 4 p.m. ET at http://www.Regent.edu/admin/media/schgov/symposium07/

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Jan. 31, 2007Bloggers are encouraged to watch live as eight of Americas leading thinkers on religion and politics gather at Regent University on Friday, Feb. 2, to answer the question, How can religion and politics become like glue bonding us together, rather than like sharp scissors cutting us apart?

WHAT: The Ronald Reagan Symposium 2007: The Future of Religion in American Politics

WHEN: Feb. 2 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. ET

WHERE: Webcast live at http://www.Regent.edu/admin/media/schgov/symposium07/

AGENDA: 9 11:30 a.m. (each presenter will speak 15-20 minutes on their noted topic, with a panel discussion/Q&A beginning at approximately 10:20 a.m.)

n Hadley Arkes, Amherst College, That Superintending Principle: The Author of the Law that was there before the Constitution and the Bill of Rights

n Daniel Dreisbach, Princeton University, George Washington on Religions Place in Public Life

n Michael Novak, American Enterprise Institute, Lessons from the Founders

n Jean Bethke Elshtain, University of Chicago, Religion in the Public Square

1:30 4 p.m. (each presenter will speak 15-20 minutes on their noted topic, with a panel discussion/Q&A beginning at approximately 2:50 p.m.)

n Marvin Olasky, WORLD magazine, Evangelical Political Models: Fenimore Cooper or William Wilberforce

n Darryl Hart, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Left Turn? Evangelicals and the Future of the Religious Right

n Michael Cromartie, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Red God, Blue God: Is There a God Gap between the Parties?

n Michael Barone, U.S. News & World Report, "Politics and Religion in the Post-Reagan Era

More information at http://www.Regent.edu/acad/schgov/events/symposium07/home.html.

MEDIA NOTE: Advance and post-event interviews with participants may be scheduled by contacting Michelle Farmer at (770) 813-0000 / (770) 757-4900 or mmfarmer@DeMossGroup.com.



Michelle Farmer or Tiffanie Wallace

(770) 813-0000 or (770) 757-4900 cell



By Michelle Farmer (not verified) on 01 Feb 2007 #permalink


Michael Barone avoids the key facts and loses touch with political realty in his assessment of the Bush/Clinton presidential dynasties. Surely the author of the respected Almanac of American Politics knows that these dynasties are less familial than educational in origin, and that both spring from the same educational institution, Yale University, where the neo-liberal Clinton dynasty of the Yale Law School (where Bill met Hillary) co-exists with the neo-conservative Bush dynasty of Skull & Bones, the politically active Yale secret society whose members include Democrat John Kerry. (2004 Presidential contenders Joe Lieberman and Howard Dean were Yale undergraduates as well, but not Bonesmen.)

Instead of examining the impact on American politics of these twin neo-dynasties, Barone wanders off to Indonesia, India and the Philippines on the way to concluding that "it's hard in a very large democracy for voters to judge a potential leader." These comparisons aren't merely unflattering, they are red herrings, for Barone uses them to suppress the information and inquiry that make sound judgment possible.

In doing so, he is in good company. "Too secret to talk about" is the catch-phrase that Yale Bonesmen John Kerry and George W. Bush (a third generation Bonesman, after his father George H W and grandfather Prescott) both used in order to evade reporters' questions about the secret society thruought the 2004 presidential campaign.

"Too secret to talk about" also explains the silence of the press at Yale and elsewhere on the unsavory role that 300 years of Ivy League venerability have played in shielding Yale's presidential offspring from scrutiny or accountability for the billions upon billions they have raised and spent on the political attack ads that have paved their way to the White House at the cost of polarizing the nation, alienating voters and corrupting American government. To the contrary, Yale University has consistently blessed the succession of Yale presidents that has occupied the White House without interruption for the past 19 years.

Given these hard political realities, it would make sense for a media-savvy pundit like Barone to call for a media alternative to political attack ads: a non-ideological, issue-centered, problem-solving media committed to making citizens and government responsive and accountable to each other in shaping the nation's future. Instead, Barone looks backward in time to justify his half-hearted, head-in-the-sand endorsement of political royalism. He cites Walter Bagehot's 19th century condescension that "the best reason why Monarchy is a strong government is, that it is an intelligible government. The mass of mankind understands it, and they hardly anywhere in the world understand any other".

This Victorian recipe for civic ignorance is at odds with 21st century political reality. Americans, while understandably fed up and confused by nearly five decades of attack ads, are not mindless. The 2006 mid-term Congressional elections were a considered and historic rejection of the attack-ad driven Bush/Clinton royalism that has become a threat to democracy at home and abroad. Bottom line, voters rejected the attack-ad politics that their Yale-trained presidents have imposed on them.

What Americans want now, if anyone is listening, is for the media to give them an informed voice in the political decisions that affect their lives. They want a prime-time civic media that will unite the nation instead of dividing it. And when America's political leaders, in desperation, finally decide to act in accordance with their stump-speech professions of trust and faith in the wisdom of the American people, this civic media, I submit, is exactly what America will get.

By Steve Sewall (not verified) on 03 Feb 2007 #permalink

Thanks for posting this. Nice to know that ONE person read it!


By Steve Sewall (not verified) on 24 Jul 2007 #permalink