America’s New Royalty
Tuesday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal carried an article confirming that Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice-President Dick Cheney had withdrawn from the Republican primary for the United States Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY). Good, that’s a start. Ms. Cheney, who, prior to announcing her candidacy, had not lived in Wyoming for over two decades possessed not a single qualification for the office other than that she is the daughter of the much accomplished Mr. Cheney.
It is of little import as to whether Ms. Cheney withdrew because of “family health concerns” as she stated or because she was trailing badly in the polls. If it is indeed the former then she has demonstrated compassion that was heretofore well hidden. If it is the latter, then the people of Wyoming have demonstrated that they possess the good sense that voters in New York and New England so repeatedly lack.
The concept of royalty was one of the underlying reasons for the American Revolutionary War. The idea that one inherited government power by virtue of birth rather than accomplishment was an anathema to the concept of freedom, democracy and, most importantly, the opportunity to succeed. Over the last two centuries European countries have relegated the concept of royalty to a quaint anachronism. Wealth and prominence are still inherited but governmental power is not. Today’s royalty, particularly in Great Britain, must earn the respect and admiration of its people and while they can provide inspiration, and occasionally societal focus, they still remain constrained to ceremonial power.
But not so in America. Over the last fifty years we have been awarding political power to an endless supply of siblings, spouses, and children of noted politicians, not because they have accomplished anything independent of their family ties, but precisely because of their family ties. Armies of sycophants rise up in support of each succeeding prince or princess in hopes of continuing the largesse that comes from associating with power. To describe these people as the remoras of politics is to slander that particular brand of parasites.
The primary example, of course, is the Kennedy clan. The legend, mostly exaggerated, that has grown up around President John F. Kennedy has propelled three generations of misfits (known more for the alcohol, drug and sexual escapades, than any actual accomplishments) into public office. In virtually every instance, they were selected and elected simply because they were Kennedys – political power by virtue of birth, not accomplishments. The latest iteration is the appointment of Caroline Kennedy as ambassador to Japan – a woman so unqualified to articulate the interests of the United States before a critical ally that she is shielded from the press corps out of fear that she will by her own words, in fact, confirm her lack of qualifications. Ms. Kennedy was awarded this prestigious position precisely because she was a Kennedy and because she served as President Barack Obama’s surrogate to demonstrate that prominent Catholics can safely ignore the tenets of the Church and support abortion on demand.
The same thing applies to the Bush clan. President George H.W. Bush was one of the most accomplished persons to ever be elected to the presidency. As much as I like his son, President George W. Bush, he is proof that wisdom is not genetically transmitted. The junior Bush chose to ignore his father’s warnings about occupation and “nation building” in Iraq with the resultant decade of military entanglement and with the advent of Mr. Obama’s withdrawal of troops the plunge back into sectarian violence and tribal hatred. (Given the alternatives, Al Gore and John Kerry, I would still have voted for Mr. Bush.) Now there are those who have touted another son, Gov. Jeb Bush, for the presidency. Despite his accomplishments as Florida governor, we simply do not need continuation of a “Bush dynasty.”
The same applies to Secretary Hillary Clinton in her quest for the presidency. She is the wife of former President Bill Clinton. She has held public office precisely because of that relationship and not because of any personal accomplishments. She was elected to the United States Senate from New York as a “carpetbagger” having never lived in New York prior to announcing her candidacy. She accomplished not a thing during her tenure as a senator other that constituency service which is largely the responsibility of professional staff rather than the elected official. She lost her first bid for the presidency to Mr. Obama but was appointed by him as Secretary of State. Other than traveling more miles than any previous Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton has not a single accomplishment. In fact, during her tenure, the violence in the Middle East accelerated and the influence of the United States declined culminating in the attack on the embassy in Benghazi. To this date she has stonewalled her involvement in the events leading up to and after that attack. To date, we don’t even know where she was and with whom she communicated during that attack. And yet Ms. Clinton will pursue the presidency because she is a Clinton and, therefore, entitled to power.
And behind them are a whole host of lesser princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses, and counts and countesses who succeed to power simply because they are “of lineage.” And quite frankly we don’t need any of them. That includes Vice-President Joe Biden’s son Beau (Attorney General of Delaware), Sen. Birch Bayh’s son Evan (Governor and Senator from Indiana), the whole family of Landrieus from Louisiana, and many more. And you can add to that list, those who simply seek prominence because of their familial ties. The poster girl for that is Meghan McCain whose singular accomplishment appears to be that next generation of McCains that the press seeks out to stab their fellow Republicans in the back.
Look, this is America. There are 350 Million people in this country most of whom are far more qualified than these stables of “American royalty.” Surely we can get along without them. Because it is America we cannot bar them from seeking office, but because it’s American we ought to be able to distinguish between image and accomplishment, between entitlement and earned success. This is one of those instances where if you fail to learn from history you are doomed to repeat history’s mistakes.
Man up, this is your country.