Boys, Boys, Boys

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 22 2012 12:16 PM

Boys, Boys, Boys

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with wife, Ann, and sons (from left) Matt, Tagg, Craig, Ben, and Josh.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

National Review's witty Kevin Williamson has been on a sort of loser tour of bad economies. Spain. California. Interesting, Steinbeckian stories that didn't get a fraction of the attention that "Like a Boss" will.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

The offspring of rich families are statistically biased in favor of sons — the children of the general population are 51 percent male and 49 percent female, but the children of the Forbes billionaire list are 60 percent male. Have a gander at that Romney family picture: five sons, zero daughters. Romney has 18 grandchildren, and they exceed a 2:1 ratio of grandsons to granddaughters (13:5). When they go to church at their summer-vacation home, the Romney clan makes up a third of the congregation. He is basically a tribal chieftain.
Professor Obama? Two daughters. May as well give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes.

This has engendered a predictable sputter-and-point reaction, but I think Williamson is elevating the subtext to the status of text. In 2007, Mitt Romney introduced his sons to the world with the "Five Brothers" campaign, a blog about bro-y things that the Romney heirs were getting up to in swing states. "The best part of the weekend was the touch football on Thanksgiving morning," said Ben Romney in November '07—days after Matt Romney showed voters pictures of his newborn son, cradled by mom in the hospital room. There was no such blog in 2011/2012, but there was this anecdote from Ann Romney:

When the campaign ended, in a home video she made for her husband, Ann Romney looked straight into the camera lens and declared: "Guess what? I'm never doing this again."
"I gave it to him, and he kind of paused and looked at me," she recalls. "And then he goes, 'That's what you said after every pregnancy.' "

Fecundity FTW! Bro-ishness and wealth-flaunting have been part of Romney's campaign for ages. No need to get flustered at Williamson for pointing it out.

That said, about the "fallopian" tubes thing—Obama has as many daughters as former oilman and ranch-owner George W. Bush. America hasn't actually elected a president with sons since 1988—no president with only sons and no daughters since 1956.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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