Have you noticed how often family members are turning up in the presidential campaign?
Consider the irony of that Ted Cruz-Canada debate. Cruz was born in Calgary and Donald (“People Are Saying”) Trump has raised the question of whether that makes him ineligible to be president. We’ll let constitutional scholars figure it out. But, meanwhile, we can enjoy recalling that Cruz’s father, Rafael, once told a Texas Tea Party group that he’d like to send President Barack Obama “back to Kenya.” Hehehehe.
Even noncrazy relatives are popping up all over. This week Chelsea Clinton set off a major battle over Bernie Sanders’ health care plan. There’s been reporting on Marco Rubio’s brother-in-law, who was once a rather high-level drug dealer in Florida. Ted Cruz’s little daughters popped up in a political cartoon.
Remember Jeb? He was going to run as his own man, but people on the campaign mailing list are getting requests for donations from George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George P. Bush and Columba Bush. The family that fundraises together stays together.
And how are we supposed to react to all this? Let’s review a few rules:
In his memoir Rubio wrote about the trauma of the arrest, and coming home as a teenager to find his pregnant sister sleeping on the family sofa with her little boy. The image, Rubio wrote, “has remained with me all my life.” This is the only part of the story I would like us to consider a little bit, since the chapter does not end with Marco offering his sister his own bed for the night. Maybe he was too modest to mention it. But inquiring minds want to know.
But Chelsea made news this week in New Hampshire where she told an audience that “Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare … dismantle Medicare and dismantle private insurance.” This is a whole new line of attack, and you’d at least expect it to come first from the candidate. “Chelsea Clinton is as policy-obsessed and as smart and as attentive to the details as both her parents when it comes to policy,” said a Clinton spokesman. That’s campaign-speak for “it was an accident.”
Cruz talks a lot about his hyperpatriotic father, who came to the United States from Cuba on a student visa, worked his way through college and then began climbing up in the world. Actually, most of the climbing occurred in Canada, where Dad worked and became a citizen in 1973. The family came back to the United States, but Rafael didn’t get around to becoming an American for 30 years.
The delay was due to “I guess laziness, or – I don’t know,” he once told David Welna of NPR.