Pols With Names We Don't Know

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Amid the pervasive trend of political families, CBS News Sunday Morning Correspondent Rita Braver imagines a new phenomenon: What if politicans didn't come with so many political ancestors, legacies or heirs? An archive of The Braver Line is available. Rita Braver's email address is rbc@cbsnews.com.
Watching all those beaming Bushes at the Republican Convention made me realize that it's time for a new political organization: Candidates Lacking Politician Parents, to be known as Clapp, of course, since they'll need to generate all the applause they can get.

Clapp will be a tiny band of the very few wannabe office holders who don't belong to political dynasties. They'll need their own organization if they're going to go up against the new commandment of American politics: Follow thy father.

Not only did we have Governor George W. and his brother, Governor Jeb, but we also had Jeb's son, the I'm-so-handsome-maybe-if-politics-doesn't-work-out-I-can-be-a-model George P. holding forth. And we also got to see the next generation of adorable, camera-ready Bush babies.

At their convention the Democrats will have not only Vice President Al Gore, son of the late senator, but also the Veep's telegenic daughter-cum-campaign adviser Karenna. The Kennedy clan will also be in its glory, with Senator Ted and his son, Rhode Island Rep. Patrick. Bobby's daughter, Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, is likely to be there, along with her cousin, Maryland delegate Bobby Shriver.

In fact, the Democrats seem to have even more multigenerational pols than the Republicans, what with Bayhs (current and former Indiana Senators Evan and Birch), Cuomos (former New York Governor Mario and son Andrew, HUD secretary and probable candidate for his dad's old job), and Daleys (current Chicago Mayor Richard who is son of the late Chicago Mayor Richard, and Gore campaign chief Bill).

America has always had its share of political families. Adamses, Roosevelts and Rockefellers dot our past. Did the dynasties of yesteryear all feature such great teeth? Not only will Clapp have to combat the big bucks that Daddy's friends love to contribute, but Clappies will also be up against the best orthodontists in the country.

Clapp members will have to teach their own names to voters. They'll have to fill up their own Rolodexes and Palm Pilots. They'll have to run campaigns in which no one wants to interview their nieces and nephews.

So get out your checkbooks. Clapp needs you.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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