Princess Caroline, after the fact

I never mentioned Caroline Kennedy (Princess Caroline, as right-wing bloggers like to call her) during all the “Will she or won’t she?” hoopla, in part because I was busy, and in part because I didn’t really care. Nepotism is a fact of life, folks. Is and always has been. Here in New Mexico especially. A few months ago my fellow New Mexican voters elected Jerome Block, Jr., to the Public Regulation Commission and Ben Ray Luján to the U.S. House of Representatives. Both were young, inexperienced men without much personal qualification but with the good fortune to share a name with their politically powerful dads. A lot of people thought they were voting for the dads, I suspect. Oh well. The American electorate cares more about sports and reality shows than about good government, so unless we want to reinstate political literacy tests again we’re stuck with this sort of thing.

Maybe being a Roman historian has something to do with my fatalistic acceptance of nepotism. In the Roman Republic, being the son and grandson and great-great-great-great-grandson of consuls wasn’t something you had to explain away (yes, my dad was President, but please don’t hold that against me). On the contrary, it was practically a requirement. The Romans called a man who was the first in his family to be elected consul a novus homo (new man), and it was a pretty big deal when one of them made an end run around the old boy network and slipped into power. In the last century of the Republic, I think there were only two of them, Gaius Marius and Cicero, both oddly enough from the same small town. Cicero cracked the system because he was a golden-tongued orator much like our own novus homo Barack Obama. But for every Cicero there were scores of political hacks who got where they were on dad’s and grandpa’s coattails – or, more accurately, I suppose, togatails.

Does my complacency about political nepotism mean I want to see Caroline Kennedy and Amy Carter or Jeb Bush and Michael Reagan as the next winning presidential ticket? I think you know me better than that. The small shred of idealism buried deep inside my cynical husk hopes that just as the Democrats found their Cicero, we Republicans can find our Gaius Marius.

Comments 4

  1. Dan wrote:

    The GOP may yet find their Marius in David Petraeus.

    I just hope that if they do he doesn’t precipitate a civil war by bribing the house of representatives like Marius did. :)

    I liked how you subtly implied that Obama is a waffler by comparing him to Cicero.

    If I may suggest it, how about doing a post comparing the Populares and Optimates to the Democrats and the Republicans?

    Posted 02 Feb 2009 at 3:47 pm
  2. Grue in the Attic wrote:

    “I liked how you subtly implied that Obama is a waffler by comparing him to Cicero.”

    Let’s be honest with ourselves here Dan. He flip-flopped no less than Kerry did. He just got away with it because people were more afraid to call him on it on the news and to pick fun at him on SNL than they were with John “Did You Know I Served in VietNam?” Kerry.

    Posted 02 Feb 2009 at 4:04 pm
  3. Dan wrote:

    If you’re honest with yourself I think you’ll find that McCain flip-flopped more than Obama did during the campaign. The flip-flop label is pretty silly IMO as all presidential candidates engage in it.

    Changing one’s mind on a subject given new information shouldn’t always be considered a bad thing, IMO. Remember when McCain said that the fundamentals of the US economy were strong and then had to amend his statement when he found out that they actually weren’t? That’s just honesty.

    Posted 02 Feb 2009 at 5:41 pm
  4. Brigette Russell wrote:

    I couldn’t possibly do the Populares-Optimates comparison. There really aren’t enough parallels between those two groups (which weren’t official parties, and didn’t have set platforms) and the Democrats and Republicans. Their differences really boiled down to political methodology, and in the US the Dems and GOP are indistinguishable on that front.

    Posted 03 Feb 2009 at 4:58 am

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  1. From Moralia - Family portraits, New Mexico Democrat style on 24 May 2009 at 2:45 pm

    […] am taking pleasure in their misfortune. I don’t dislike Block because he’s a product of nepotism, or because he got drunk and urinated in public as a callow youth, or even because he’s an […]

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