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He ain't heavy, he's my brother

Yesterday, when I denounced attacking people simply because of whom they were related to, I started thinking about the whole category of "relatives of the president." And that led me to an observation: some of the biggest pains in the butt some presidents have had to endure have come from their brothers. And I thought it might be fun to kick around who would be ranked as "the worst brother of a president."

Let's look at some potential winners, starting with the current president and working back a few decades.

Neil Bush -- he'd be a strong contender, but for one minor technicality: his worst offense, his involvement in the Silverado Savings and Loan, was when he was the son of a president (and vice president), not the brother of one. That technicality saves him.

Roger Clinton -- he committed most of his offenses either before or after Bill Clinton's presidency, but they are germane thanks to his receiving a presidential pardon that Bill signed on his way out of the White House. Not really a trouble-maker, more a ne'er-do-well and bit of a bum.

(Update: knew I forgot someone) George H. W. Bush's brothers: Prescott, Jonathan, and William H. T. Bush. All three went into private business and stayed there. There have been touches of scandals and allegations of wrongdoing, but nothing really substantive.

Neil Reagan -- didn't really do too much.

Billy Carter -- he was what Roger Clinton might have aspired to be. Largely just an embarrassment to his brother, Jimmy Carter, his high mark (or lowest point) was when he let himself be bought by Muammar Quadaffi at a time when Libya was one of the world's leading sponsors of terrorism. Billy sparked a congressional investigation of his very own, and had to eventually register as an agent of Libya's to avoid legal entanglements.

Donald Nixon -- took a $205,000 "loan" from Howard Hughes in 1957, when that was REAL money and his brother Richard was vice-president. Again, he might squeak by on a loophole there.

Sam Houston Johnson -- another Billy Carter. He'd apparently get drunk and shoot his mouth off to the press, embarrassing Lyndon to the point that the Secret Service kept an eye on him.

Ted Kennedy -- while nearly all his misdeeds happened after his brother John was assassinated (with the exception of getting expelled from Harvard for cheating on a Spanish test), it is indisputable that he would not have been first elected to the United States Senate without Jack's influence and goodwill. In that context, it can be argued that every single scandal he's been involved in has been because of his being the brother of a president -- and a martyred one, at that. While I let Neil Bush slide on a technicality, I'll lump Teddy in with Donald Nixon and say that his belonging on this list is debatable.

Any other nominees I might have missed?

Comments (23)

Jay:Seems to me th... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:


Seems to me that you got the Carter one backwards. It should be that Jimmy was a big embarrassment to Billy.

Brother of Harry S. Truman:... (Below threshold)

Brother of Harry S. Truman: John Truman's middle name was "Vivian". Does that count?

You have missed the obvious... (Below threshold)

You have missed the obvious one(s) - The Bush Twins - Drunk and Drunker, my DC insider tells me that way before they were street legal these two were being dragged outta the back doors of some if not most of DC's finest drinking establishments by the SS before they could be snapped by the press.

ClashCity, get your head ou... (Below threshold)

ClashCity, get your head out of your cymbals. The whole theme of this is BROTHERS of PRESIDENTS. As the Bush Twins are (1) nobody's brother and (B) are not the sibling of a president, they don't make this list.

Hell, I gave you Neil Bush. What more do you want?


There were kids who drank w... (Below threshold)

There were kids who drank when undersage? I am shocked. It is so unlike most Americans. What a scandal. (sarcasm)

Trolls have to make themselves sick once in a while. Don't they?

Jay, another good piece.


uhh, Billy Bulger was Presi... (Below threshold)

uhh, Billy Bulger was President of U Mass and his brother's on the 10 most wanted list. Does that count? No. Sorry.

Reluctantly, I'd have to agree on letting Ted slide, according to your criteria -- he was still Scoundrel-in-Training at the time (but uncontrovertibly learning at the foot of Jack and Joe, two pretty impressive mentors).

What about brothers of Firs... (Below threshold)

What about brothers of First Ladies, particularly ones who want to be HRH Madame President?

Its time for america to suc... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Its time for america to sucead from the UN and tell the UN to GET LOST

Billy Carter was clearly th... (Below threshold)

Billy Carter was clearly the smarter brother, and made a much greater contribution to this word, Billy Beer, than anything his hate filled Socialist kin has ever done.

President Grant's brother w... (Below threshold)

President Grant's brother was involved in a scandal with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. George Custer testified against him in the hearings and was demoted to Lt. Col for his efforts. Some have theorized that Custer was sent into a trap at the Little Big Horn as Punishment. Possibly, as soldiers serving under Major Benteen reported they could hear the noise and see the dust from the battle, but somehow Benteen held back and offered no assistance.

Burt -- thanks for offering... (Below threshold)

Burt -- thanks for offering a contribution that's a bit more than political snottiness.

I dug around and found the transcript of the July 15, 2004 airing of CNN's Paula Zahn Now. It seems that presidential brothers do have a history, including:

MATTINGLY: So maybe LBJ had the right idea when he assigned secret service agents to his binge drinking brother Sam as a way to keep him out of trouble and out of the headlines. A pattern of behavior that might of dated back to childhood. Big brother Lyndon keeping an eye on the rebellious little brother.

And there's a reference to a "Donald Nixon." What'd he do?


Sisters, what about sisters... (Below threshold)

Sisters, what about sisters? Who cares about brothers?

Neil Bush's dinner date wit... (Below threshold)

Neil Bush's dinner date with Hinkley Sr on the day Hinkley Jr shot Reagan. Is that too juicy to post here?

Odd enough about Roger Clin... (Below threshold)

Odd enough about Roger Clinton was everyone was waiting for him to do something really stupid to embarrass the Clintons. At one point there was a joke "Countdown to Federal Indictment" for old Rog. The hilarity was Hillary got one first before Roger. Something Don Imus got in a bit of hot water over when he cracked a joke about it at the Press Luncheon.

Since Hillary is running for President and her husband was President is her brother's shenanigans fair game?

So, when the realtives of R... (Below threshold)

So, when the realtives of R's get into trouble, it involves money, when it is the D's it involves the bottle... hmmm.
All annecdotal, of course.

BryanD just cannot grasp th... (Below threshold)

BryanD just cannot grasp the "Sins of the father" notion, can he?
Dude, Fox Mulder (if he were real) would think you're grasping at straws.

SCSIwuzzy, Hey, you gotta a... (Below threshold)

SCSIwuzzy, Hey, you gotta admit the sideways approach to subject used in many blog entries here leaves clarity somewhere else. Does Mulder know where? And speaking of teevee friends, I'm happy that Allison Hannigan is back in prime time, but I need Tivo to watch her. Has she let her copper hair grow longer since her lesbian last two years on Buffy? Nothing against lesbians, but to make a Real Looker into a Frumpy one was going too far. Get Mulder on it and report back to me ASAP!

If Hillary ever (God forbid... (Below threshold)

If Hillary ever (God forbid) becomes president, her brothers Hugh and Tony will no doubt get into even more trouble than they got to while Billy was prez. Remember they were profiting on Clinton's pardons and they were ordered to pay back the money? Does anyone ever think that they did? Yeah, right. Also, one of her brothers was once married to Barbara Boxer's daughter and they divorced and he wasn't paying child support. So Hillary's brother was a dead beat dad! Ha.

Roger Clinton - cocaine pro... (Below threshold)
Will Pickering:

Roger Clinton - cocaine problems
Billy Carter - alchoholic
Sam H. Johnson - drank at least a lot
Ted Kennedy - also drinking problem

Anybody notice a pattern here? I always heard that some of the others on the list were alchohics as well, but I can't say for certain.

had rumoured cocaine /d... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

had rumoured cocaine /drinking problems. It's a good thing we are limiting this thread to siblings, and half siblings of Presidents'.

See what happens when you s... (Below threshold)

See what happens when you skim and not read, let this be a lesson to all you kiddies out there.

Please accept my humblest of apologies, but I'd still hit the blonde one.

Jay, instead of looking at ... (Below threshold)

Jay, instead of looking at brothers, why not get down to the point & look at the srew-up-of-all-screw-ups who doesn't even require a brother of ill-repute?

That would leave only one of 43 presidents who was stupid enough to take this nation down his idiotic path to the Grand Debacle of Iraq, leading to wantonly doubling the 9/11 casualties because he was too damn stupid to know the difference between a tamale and the Rio Grande, let alone anything else about foreign affairs.

BushBaby doesn't need a F.U. of a brother because he is the grandest F.U. of them all.

Regarding Neil: Aren't you ... (Below threshold)

Regarding Neil: Aren't you forgetting about the sworn Q&A testimony he had to lay down at his 2003 divorce trial? Sure, the multiple encounters with those East Asian hookers may have happened prior to his brother's presidency -- not to mention the resultant VD affliction -- but the REVELATION of it all came out while Dubya was well within his first term of office. And the company-provided hookers were just the icing on the cake; the Shanghai-based semiconductor company that backed it all also gave him $2 million in stock for his troubles, plus $10,000 for every board meeting he attended.

In his own words, man: the hookers are getting paid, Neil's getting paid ... he's like the M.C. Escher of whoredom!

So maybe not everything Neil did puts him on the exact same chronological map as his brother's presidency, but the perpetual slime trail he's left, decade after decade, through nearly every facet of his personal and professional life, and up to this very day, certainly qualifies him for at least a slot in the upper echelon of presidential sibling embarrassments.

To say the least.






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