Grading How Politicians' Kids Have Grown Up

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Both Meghan McCain and Chelsea Clinton recently landed gigs as contributors to NBC News (well, McCain's at MSNBC), which should tell us something. In McCain's case it says duh Meghan McCain likes being on TV. But in the case of Clinton, who was so pointedly kept out of the press as a politician's kid, it leads us to wonder if maybe a life in the public eye is all that ever makes sense once your parent has become a world famous politician. In that spirit, let's take a look at her and some other political scions and assess what they've done with their lives, public or not. Because why not!

Amy Carter

Carter, who was nine years old when she moved into the White House, was the real badass of recent First Kids. She read books during state dinners, she gave pithy answers to interviewers, and, best of all, was arrested in Northampton, MA for protesting CIA recruitment at UMass when she was 19. With Abbie Hoffman! After those early bouts of activism, Carter went to college, got a master's in art history, and then moved to Atlanta and basically disappeared. Well, she's married with a kid and all that, but hers is a defiantly private life. Pretty freaking radical. A

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Kristin Gore

Gore, who was fifteen when her father became vice president, managed to avoid any scrutiny in her teen years and then escaped to the nerdy confines of the Harvard Lampoon, where she launched a successful writing career. She's written books and for Saturday Night Live and Futurama, and co-wrote the screenplay for David O. Russell's long-delayed comedy Nailed. She's funny and seems personable and her success seems based on at least partly merit, so she's fine. A- Meanwhile, Kristin's journalist sister Karenna gets a B+, as she's a bit of a Page Six staple.  

Chelsea Clinton 

After seeing what Amy Carter went through, as she was the first actual child in the White House since the Kennedy days, the Clintons decided to tightly control press coverage of their daughter, hoping to shield her from scrutiny and allow her to have as typical an upbringing as possible. And for a while she did. Chelsea was barely reported on, only popping up in the media years later when she was studying at Oxford and dating a cute Rhodes Scholar, and later when she moved to New York. Mostly people seemed impressed that she had, in fact, turned out normal. She just worked in finance (ugh) and had a boyfriend and that was that. It worked! Well, for a time. Just a few years later she was campaigning for her mom, had a lavish wedding (to a different guy), and is now going to be reporting for NBC News. Maybe it's hard to live a private life when everyone knows who you are, or maybe the allure of the cameras was too great. Either way, it feels like a vague disappointment. B

Jenna Bush (Hager)

Like Chelsea, George W.'s daughter avoided the public eye for most of her father's term as president. Sure she had that little underage drinking thing, but that was actually kind of fun. Even the president's daughter gets busted with booze! Then she disappeared back into college, after graduation she moved to New York and became a teacher's aide, everything seemed fine. But then the ol' fame monster came a'creepin' and soon she was writing a children's book and then doing cutesy Ellen segments in which she called up her (war criminal) daddy on the phone, and then all of a sudden she's a cringingly inept correspondent for The Today Show, interviewing dreamboat movie stars. Aw, Jenna. You were doing so well! What about the children? Too bad. (Her twin sister Barbara Bush gets an A, because she seems to have avoided this whole machine entirely.)

Ron Reagan

The son of either the most beloved or most hated president ever, depending on who you ask (we bet we know where Amy Carter falls on the matter), Reagan Jr. has run about as far away from his father's politics as one can. He's an avid left-winger who had his own Air America show for god's sake. He now occasionally guest hosts for Chris Matthews on Hardball and generally makes the rounds on cable news. He's entertaining, though it's not exactly clear if most of the entertainment value is because it's the son of the Gipper saying all those filthy liberal things. For bucking against the legacy of his dad he gets an for bravery. For sucking on the teet of the awful cable pundit wehrmacht, he gets a C-. 

Meghan McCain

The daughter of a two-time almost president, McCain has been blogging a bit clunkily for The Daily Beast since 2009, positioning herself as a new breed of Republican, one who's hip and up-to-date on social issues (McCain actively supports gay marriage, for example) but who is hawkish and fearful of government intrusion just like all the old dudes. Now she has a gig as a contributor to MSNBC, representing a young Republican voice, and ugh. We're glad that she's all pro-social issues and what not, but the nepotism just glares so blindingly when you read her remedial writing or see her awkwardly contributing on some news show. She'd be a lot more effective if she went about her political work without always holding a big sign pointing to herself. And, y'know, if she boned up on her poli sci. D

Bristol Palin

For obvious reasons, F-


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.