Live

Watch CBSN Live

Oh, Brother!

CBS News Senior Political Editor Dotty Lynch takes a look at presidential family ne'er-do-wells through the years.

Most of the recent commentary has lumped all the Clinton scandals together rather breathlessly. But the latest revelations about brotherly involvement in presidential pardons have the ring of familiarity to them, not so much in Clinton lore but in the scrapbook of presidential family embarrassments.

Hugh Rodham, an unsuccessful candidate for senator in Florida back in 1994, is the most recent family member to embarrass a president, but he is hardly the first.

President Bush in his press conference Thursday issued a stern warning to his family – "Behave yourself." He may have been thinking of some of his own pranks back in his drinking days, or more specifically of his brother Neil's involvement in a the Silverado S&L scandal, or his Uncle Prescott's golf course in China. Democrats might add brother Jeb and the Florida election to the list of conflicts and favors, but that came more in the line of duty.

President Carter, who got on his high horse this week and called the Clinton pardons "disgraceful," had to deal with his brother Billy's $220,000 loan from the Libyan government.

And then there was President Nixon's brother Donald who received a $205,000 loan from billionaire Howard Hughes, who had a number of issues before the federal government.

Roger Clinton's arrest this week for DUI (and revelations late in the week that he unsuccessfully lobbied his brother for pardons) also kept the scandal industry cranking. But the memory bank brings us back to Billy Carter, as well as Lyndon Johnson's brother Sam.

JFK had to deal with charges of his father’s anti-semitism and his sister's lobotomy. And Ronald Reagan had the pleasure of seeing his son Ron Jr. cavorting around in his underwear on Saturday Night Live.

There's also nothing brand new about accepting gifts. Richard Nixon's political career was almost ended by charges that he kept a slush fund of money from wealthy contributors. He eventually gave back the money but refused to give back a little cocker spaniel which he said his daughters had come to love.

Come to think of it Nixon was kinder to his dog Checkers than Hillary was to her brother Hugh; Hillary cut him off at the knees. In her pale blue shirt (possibly carefully picked to distance herself from her White House "pink press conference") she said (10 times) "I'm disappointed" in her brother. She added, "I have not talked to him about it" and "if I had known about this we wouldn't be standing here today."

Not a victim today, but an angry senator saying things about her brother she hasn't said publicly about her husband. In her defiance and lack of equivocation she struck a credible note. Both Denise Rich and Hugh Rodham knew better than to go to Hillary for help on the pardons. Despite allegations of sleaze thoe who know her well say she may be too puritanical and unyielding. One adviser told CBS News that she told White House National Security chief Sandy Berger to "Slap her brothers around" if they tread into foreign policy.

So whatever the political fallout for the Clintons, Hugh Rodham is assured his place in history alongside Billy Carter, Donald Nixon and Checkers. But come to think of it, isn't that better than being known for getting 29 percent of the vote in Florida?

(c) MMI Viacom Internet Services Inc. All Rights Reserved