Discussing "dynasticism" on NBC's Meet the Press, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan asserted that "this Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton" is a "sickness" that "is giving so many people pause." But when asked how they felt about members of the Bush and Clinton families holding the presidency for nearly 20 years, 50 percent of respondents in a recent New York Times/CBS News poll said it "doesn't really make much difference."
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On the January 20 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, during a discussion on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and the question of political dynasties, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan asserted that "this Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton" is a "sickness" that "is giving so many people pause." Noonan further claimed: "as some people come forward and endorse, on the Democratic side, Mrs. Clinton, they must be thinking, stop the dynasty." According to a January 9-12 New York Times/CBS News poll, 50 percent of respondents said it "doesn't really make much difference" when asked how they "feel about members of these two families [the Bushes and Clintons] holding the presidency for nearly 20 years." Thirty-eight percent responded that it is a "bad thing," and 5 percent said it is a "good thing."
The Times/CBS poll asked:
Since 1989, a member of the Bush or Clinton family has been President of the United States. How do you feel about members of these two families holding the presidency for nearly 20 years -- it is a good thing for the country, because the individuals in these families have a lot of experience in government and politics, or it is a bad thing for the country, because it concentrates too much power among a small group of people, or it doesn't really make much difference, because each election is about individuals, not families?
A January 20 write-up on the poll question in the Times' The Caucus blog reported: "According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, most [voters] are indifferent, saying each election is about individuals and not families ... Democratic primary voters were divided on whether it is bad or makes no difference. But Democrats who support Mrs. Clinton's nomination are more likely to say it makes no difference."
Additionally, a July 27-30, 2007, NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked: "If Hillary Clinton was elected president, some people say this would be a problem because it would mean at least twenty-four years of having a member of the Clinton family or the Bush family as president. Is this a serious consideration for you, not much of a consideration, or not a consideration for you at all?" The poll found that 54 percent of respondents said it would be "not a consideration at all," with another 20 percent responding that it would be "not much of a consideration."
Polling also indicates that voters are comfortable with former President Bill Clinton being back in the White House. As Talking Points Memo reporter-blogger Greg Sargent noted on November 15, 2007, "[V]oters ... have told pollsters again and again and again that they are comfortable with" the prospect of Bill Clinton being back in the White House, and see it "as either a non-issue or a positive." Indeed, Media Matters for America has documented several 2007 polls in which a majority of respondents stated that Bill Clinton is an asset to Hillary Clinton's campaign and would have a positive effect on a Hillary Clinton administration:
- A September 27-30, 2007, Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 60 percent of respondents said they "personally feel comfortable ... with the idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House."
- A September 25-26, 2007, Fox News poll found that 53 percent of respondents thought that of the spouses of seven presidential candidates (including both Democrats and Republicans), Bill Clinton "would help [his] spouse the most to win the White House."
- An April 10-12, 2007, CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found that 60 percent of respondents thought Bill Clinton would have a "positive effect" on a Hillary Clinton administration.
- A March 23-25, 2007, Gallup poll found that 70 percent of respondents thought Bill Clinton would do "more good than harm" for Hillary Clinton's campaign.
- A February 22-25, 2007, Gallup poll found that 70 percent of respondents thought Bill Clinton would be "mostly helpful ... to her [Hillary Clinton's] presidency."
The January 9-12 Times/CBS poll found that, among Democratic primary voters, 39 percent of respondents said that "Bill Clinton's involvement in Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign" would make them more likely to support Hillary Clinton, 13 percent said it would make them less likely to support her, and 47 percent said it would make no difference.
From the January 20 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN (presidential historian): And Hillary, I think, is saying she understands the role of inspiration; she's talked about that and the role of somehow being able to mobilize the people. But she says you got to be able to manage on day one. And I don't think that he [Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)] was really saying by saying he had a disorderly desk that he was going to be a Bush-like CEO president, but she was able to move right in. I mean, that was very quick on her part to change that level of the topic to that conversation.
TOM BROKAW (former NBC Nightly News anchor, to Meet the Press host Tim Russert): I think she's helped as well, Tim, by the perceived feeling in this country that President Bush has been a disaster in terms of managing the presidency. That's a lesson that everybody wakes up with every morning at this point.
BROKAW: Republicans and Democrats alike. I have never heard as many Republicans -- gold-star, born and bred Republicans -- so unhappy with the management of this country by a Republican president now.
NOONAN: Totally true.
BROKAW: And I think that when she plays the competence card and the experience card, it's measured against that.
BROKAW: We don't want to go back into an unknown again. Here is somebody who does know what she's doing. That does pop up in the polls. But the counterweight to it, of course, is still not entirely comfortable with her. I have questions about her character and concern about whether she can win.
NOONAN: May I say, dynasticism is part of this, too?
GOODWIN: Oh, yes.
NOONAN: We haven't mentioned it, but there is this Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton -- I've called it a sickness. It is an odd way for a great democracy to comport itself, in this strange -- we have dynasties now backed by lobbyists, backed by machines and machinery. The fact that America is doing this is giving so many people pause. It is unlike us. And I cannot help but think, as some people come forward and endorse, on the Democratic side, Mrs. Clinton, they must be thinking, stop the dynasty. I know Republicans are thinking, stop the dynasties.
BROKAW: But on NBC, you'd be happy with Russert, Brokaw, Russert, Brokaw. That would be OK?
NOONAN: Forever, Tom. Forever.
The January 20 post on The Caucus in its entirety:
Americans have lived with either a Bush or a Clinton in the White House since 1989. And that pattern will continue if Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York captures the Democratic nomination and goes on to win the presidency. How do voters feel about that?
According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, most are indifferent, saying each election is about individuals and not families. But the national survey found that about a third of all voters -- and similarly, a third of all Republican primary voters -- consider the pattern bad for the country, because it concentrates too much power among a small group of people. Democratic primary voters were divided on whether it is bad or makes no difference. But Democrats who support Mrs. Clinton's nomination are more likely to say it makes no difference.
The telephone poll was conducted Jan. 9-12 with 1,061 registered voters.