Politics

Politics R Us, or, Who's Your Daddy?

Rich white guys are not the only ones who can be counted among the 1%. The label is not just about income, it’s also about privilege and position… and nepotism.

The 1% in the US usually refers to the Mitt Romneys of the world who think it’s being a regular Joe to make an off-the-cuff bet with someone (Texas Governor Rick Perry) for $10,000 rather than, say, $20. Or, to own “a couple of Cadillacs”, along with other cars (some apparently with a dog attached to the roof). Or, to claim multiple states in the United States as their home because they have so many homes in so many states.

And the more someone like Romney tries so desperately to pretend he’s a common man (e.g., reciting lyrics from some Davy Crockett song from his childhood, eating “cheesy grits”, mentioning that he’s friends with the owners of sports teams), the more laughable and disliked he becomes.

But rich white guys like Romney aren't the only ones who can be counted among the 1%. The label isn't just about income: it’s also about privilege and position…and nepotism.

Nepotism in politics is as American as Apple (the pie and the company). Think John Adams and John Quincy Adams. John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, et. al. George W. H. Bush and George W. Bush and Jeb Bush. Mario Cuomo and Andrew Cuomo (who was previously married to Kerry Kennedy).

Is there anyone—really, anyone—who believes “W” could ever have ascended to the presidency of the United States if his father had not been president? The Oliver Stone film shows that even his own father had serious doubts about that man's fitness to be president.

Alas, the nepotism factor in politics doesn’t just end with elected office. It’s invaded the media, as well.

Remember learning about the military-industrial complex? Well, the US has a political-media-progeny complex, where more and more children of famous politicians (or famous political commentators) are being hired for news and commentary positions on major networks and internet sites. How much more 1%-y does it get than that?

Here are some of the best-known political progeny on the airwaves today:

• Mika Brzezinski, co-host of Morning Joe (MSNBC) and daughter of former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Not surprisingly, Dad often appears on the show to give his opinions on foreign policy matters.

• Ron Reagan, political commentator (MSNBC), son of former President and conservative icon Ronald Reagan

• Chris Cuomo, co-anchor, 20/20 (ABC), son of former New York Governor and liberal icon Mario Cuomo

• Chris Wallace, host, Fox News Sunday, son of television journalism legend Mike Wallace

Liz Cheney, news contributor (Fox News), daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney

• Alexandra Pelosi, former network television producer (NBC), documentary filmmaker (HBO), daughter of Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi

• Emily Rooney, former ABC News producer, current host of Greater Boston (WGBH/PBS), daughter of 60 Minutes’ columnist-curmudgeon for 33 years, Andy Rooney

Luke Russert, 26, congressional correspondent (MSNBC/NBC), son of Tim Russert, the longest-serving moderator of Meet the Press (NBC), who died in 2008, and Vanity Fair special correspondent Maureen Orth.

• Meghan McCain, 27, contributor (The Daily Beast and MSNBC), daughter of Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain

• Jenna Bush Hager, 29, correspondent, Today (NBC) daughter of former President George W. Bush and granddaughter of former President George H.W. Bush

• And, most recently, Chelsea Clinton, 31, special correspondent, NBC Nightly News, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

It’s obvious why moguls would be interested in all of them: big-time name recognition, the audience’s natural curiosity about the children of famous people, and the polish and ease that can come with being in the spotlight from a young age.

Growing up in a household where your parents and their friends eat, live, and breathe politics is certainly an invaluable education. And some of these reporters even have journalism or communications degrees, and even worked their way up through the ranks to the positions they currently hold.

But, let’s get real. Much as I sympathize with Luke Russert for losing his father so young, would he really have such a high-profile job if his father hadn’t been a Washington power player? Would anyone be clamoring for Jenna or Chelsea to be on TV if not for their prominent parents?

College seniors in the journalism/communication fields are freaking out. They’re being told there are no jobs out there, they need an advanced degree, the future of paying positions in journalism is getting hazier, and they’re facing, in some cases, thousands upon thousands of dollars in student loans.

The 1% that may be standing in young people’s way aren’t necessarily the multi-millionaires/billionaires we all envision when we hear the term. They’re more likely to be young, familiar faces with exceedingly familiar names staring at them through their television, laptop, or tablet screens.

It’s time for a new movement, America: Occupy Nepotism!

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image