If the U.S. is going to have dynasties, at least have good ones

In America, any child “may become president, and I suppose it’s just one of the risks he takes,” two-time Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson once cracked. But we run a bigger risk of getting someone with a famous last name. Since I became aware of politics, sometime around the start of the Iranian hostage crisis, either a Bush or a Clinton has been on a major-party presidential ticket in all but the last two races; 2016 would make it eight out of ten. And consider the irony that one of the main figures standing athwart another Bush-Clinton race is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., himself the scion of a minor political dynasty.

The Founders wisely barred the federal government from granting “titles of nobility” (though they may have been too quick to dismiss “corruption of blood” as grounds for political disqualification). Still, they recognized that “there is a natural aristocracy among men,” as Thomas Jefferson put it to John Adams in 1813, “the grounds of this are virtue and talents.”

Neither Jeb nor Hillary, one suspects, is quite what Jefferson had in mind. Like his brother “43,” Jeb is given to anti-Jeffersonian tropes about the dangers of “neo-isolationism” and “American passivity” in foreign policy. Hillary thinks it’s the president’s job to be “commander in chief of our economy,” and she’s rarely met a war she didn’t like, including the Iraq debacle, which she voted for before she was against it.

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