January
18th 2009
Daughters and political dynasties

Posted under: American history, childhood, nepotism, women's history

UPDATED AND CORRECTED BELOW, 1/19/09

Like his two immediate predecessors in the U.S. Presidency, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Barack Obama is the father of daughters and only of daughters.  In fact, there are now (at least as of Tuesday) six U.S. Presidents since World War II who were the fathers of daughters only:  Harry S Truman (Margaret), Lyndon Johnson (Lynda and Luci), Richard Nixon (Tricia and Julie), Bill Clinton (Chelsea), George W. Bush (Barbara and Jenna), and Barack Obama (Sasha and Malia).  The other six postwar presidents–Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush–all had children of both sexes.  None had Only Eisenhower had boys only, and only one (Bush) has sons with prominent careers in electoral politics.  (I suppose radio talk show host Michael Reagan is in politics, loosely speaking, but I’m talking here about involvement in electoral politics.)  Am I missing anyone in this list? 

We’ve only had two presidents whose sons also became president.  (And look how that worked out for us, with Mr. Worst and Mr. Second Worst President ever!)  Longtime readers know that I am opposed to nepotism and the creation of American aristocracies, but I recognize that wealth and a famous name are highly useful in launching a career in politics.  I wonder who the first daughter will be to follow her father into the White House?  (Or her mother?  Nah.  Not in my lifetime!)  A few of the women listed above have been active in politics because they married into political families–Julie Nixon Eisenhower is married to David Eisenhower, the grandson of the President after whom Camp David was named.  One married a politician:  Lynda Bird Johnson Robb is married to Chuck Robb, a former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator.  But no daughters have chosen to become pols.  Most seem to cherish private life after their parents leave the White House.

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