It is a startling yet oft-forgotten fact that had the favourite for the Democratic Party presidential nomination succeeded in 2008, the highest office in the world’s premier democracy would have been shared exclusively between two families for an unbroken 28 years.

Maybe it's time for new blood. Pic: AFP

That is, had Hillary Clinton beaten Barack Obama in the 2008 primary race (as expected), she would in all likelihood, have replaced the 43rd president George W. Bush, who, after two unhappy terms had succeeded her husband and 42nd president, Bill Clinton.

Forty-two did two successful if tumultuous terms having replaced 41, George H W Bush after one ultimately unpopular term.

Some democracy it would have looked like: The two ruling families of their respective parties, the Bushes of Texas and the Clintons of Arkansas handing the White House back and forth between them from 1988 all the way through to 2016 when the current Democratic term ends.

The Obama victory in the 2008 primary broke the lineage and saved the country from what would have been an undemocratic optic. But it is by no means over.

Few realise that as a senior member of the Obama cabinet to date, Hillary has, technically speaking, been in the line of succession to the presidency anyway.

Now, with her retirement, there is talk of ex-president Bill (42) succeeding her at the State Department. Apparently it is it the question among other things, of his eligibility due to the two-term-maximum set out in the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution and the fact that as a minister, he may be deemed to be in the presidential line again.

Back on Hillary, many Democrats and people the world over would love to see her go all the way in 2016 following Obama’s second term.

At what would be age 69 by then, it seems unlikely yet it remains a distinct possibility.

And don’t forget, there’s always young Chelsea Clinton.

The now 32 year old effectively grew up in the White House - you could say it is in her blood.

And she’s not the only one.

The other big name being seriously discussed for 2016? You guessed it, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

You wouldn’t read about it.

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    • PW says:

      05:30am | 10/11/12

      I’ve never been able to understand the rational;e behind two term limit the US have. Imagine, for all his weaknesses with chubby young interns, if Clinton had been able to be re-elected in 2000. Not only would he have won in a landslide, but the world would now be a much different place, and the World Trade Center might even still be standing.

    • acotrel says:

      07:04am | 10/11/12

      It is the same rationale involved with not making voting compulsory. -  It is all about ‘them’ and ‘us’ ! Change is not welcomed by the conservatives.  Roosevelt was too much of a shock to the system.

    • TimB says:

      07:59am | 10/11/12

      “but the world would now be a much different place, and the World Trade Center might even still be standing. “

      Doubt it. 9/11 didn’t happen because the terrorists hated George Bush. It happened because they hate America.

      Term limits are an odd thing. The 22nd Amendment was supposedly introduced to formalise a precedent set by Washington only having two terms, but clearly there were practical reasons for it as well. But how relevant are they? FDR got 4 terms (ok 3 and a bit) and it wasn’t exactly a disaster.

      I dunno, if you got a really good president, why wouldn’t you want to keep him? If he screws up he can be dumped anyway….maybe balance it with a recall provision.

    • St. Michael says:

      08:38am | 10/11/12

      “FDR got 4 terms (ok 3 and a bit) and it wasn’t exactly a disaster.”

      Ah, most sane economists would disagree with you on that one.  As would FDR’s own Secretary of the Treasury.  FDR having 4 straight terms is the main reason they cut it back to two.  Traditionally US Presidents didn’t seek 2nd and 3rd terms; FDR’s excuse was “because the war’s on”, which is uncomfortably close to the cliche of a dictator assuming power “for the duration of the emergency” and then extended said emergency out for life.

      FDR dropped dead in 1945.  Two years later they passed the 22nd amendment.  In politics I’d call that damn close to cause and effect; they sure as hell didn’t try it while FDR was still alive.

      But the US’s biggest problem is that they don’t have term limits for all their other elected positions - that’s what creates the political caste in the United States.

    • TcB says:

      08:48am | 10/11/12

      @TimB I think the point is not that Al Qaida only hated Bush but rather that it’s now been revealed the Bush administration had notice for months before 11 September about a planned terrorist attack in the US yet were not able to prevent the attack.

    • marley says:

      09:00am | 10/11/12

      @acotrel - I fail to see how limiting a president to two terms has anything at all to do with not making voting compulsory.  Limiting the number of terms a president could serve was initially about trying to avoid any one individual becoming too entrenched in power.  Optional voting assumes people are adult enough to decide whether they want to exercise their franchise.  What either has to do with “them” vs “us” is a mystery to me.

    • PW says:

      09:14am | 10/11/12

      “9/11 didn’t happen because the terrorists hated George Bush. It happened because they hate America.”

      We’ll never really know for sure, of course. But it seems to me that Clinton managed to keep dialogue going, whereas Bush (like his pappy before him) were much more inclined to rattle the sabres.

    • Seano says:

      10:38am | 10/11/12

      Yes but imagine the damage another 4 years of Geirge W Bush incompetence would have done.

    • Gordon says:

      12:25pm | 10/11/12

      Without the 22nd amendment Reagan would have run again & Clinton might never have happened

    • SZF says:

      01:53pm | 10/11/12

      Clinton wasn’t always about keeping dialogue open PW. He lobbed a bunch of cruise missiles al-Quaida’s way back in the late 90’s (in Somalia from memory?). He was equally happy to enforce the Iraqi no-fly zone and launched at least 1 bombing campaign there around the time of Ramadan.

      Diplomacy - from either party - was never going to prevent 9/11. Bin Laden’s original reason for jihad was his fury at the Saudi royal family’s allowance of US bases on Saudi soil near holy sites.

    • acotrel says:

      06:49am | 10/11/12

      I was in Greece when Obama first got elected.  It was amazing the effect that had on the locals - they were very happy and excited.

    • kate says:

      07:57am | 10/11/12

      And now, because of Obama’s ideology, they are throwing firebombs at each other.

    • Bob Real says:

      07:59am | 10/11/12

      @aco - I almost choked on a Greek omelet when I read that. You are normally so partisan. What do you mean? Something about the Greek economy or just that Obama is popular outside the US?

    • JoniM says:

      09:21am | 10/11/12

      “..they were very happy and excited. “

      Obviously they were thinking of migrating to the USA !
      Handouts were drying up where they lived !

    • PW says:

      09:24am | 10/11/12

      Kate- they are throwing firebombs because Germany in particular is setting austerity requirements which the Government is obliged to implement in return for bailing them out of their debt crisis to the tune of hundreds of billions of euros. Not too sure what this has to do with Obama.

    • Joan says:

      10:37am | 10/11/12

      Obama on track to make Greeks feel at home-  US debt now $16trillion that is $50,000 per person - courtesy Obama

    • Lindsay says:

      11:43am | 10/11/12

      @PW don’t worry I’m sure it’s also Gillard’s fault somehow, some people just can’t help themselves.

    • Wont that be funny says:

      07:20am | 10/11/12

      Sarah Palin vs Hilary Clinton 2016

    • Seano says:

      10:43am | 10/11/12

      Can you imagine the debate? Hillary would make Sarah cry.

    • John says:

      07:25am | 10/11/12

      Robert Kennedy’s grandson, Joseph Kennedy III has just been elected to Congress. So that is three generations of Kennedys in politics, four if you count his great grandfather Joseph Kennedy who was a huge player behind the scenes.

    • Rosie says:

      07:31am | 10/11/12

      Geez Mark how can you not think of Mrs Michelle Obama - the woman behind the man especially after Obama’s second term win which wasn’t due to the way in which he lead America out of the economic mess it found itself in but because he was America’s first black President and with Mrs Michelle Obama were the best of orators. Mrs Michelle Obama, strong, feisty, very intelligent and don’t stand in the way of my husband being re-elected shone outstandingly - a stellar performance. African Americans loved her and so were the modern age insecure women that needed someone like Mrs Obama to make them feel good about being a female.

      There, Mrs Michelle Obama has everything Mrs Hillary Clinton has for the job and more - she has the black appeal and a husband, not known to have cheated on her while in the White House. First female US President which happens to be black, two in one is a seller on its own, would be more popular than just a first female President. Amazing what social media or electronic propaganda machines can do these days! It is so good, Gillard Labor will put it before good economic governance for this country.

      I bet Julia Gillard must be wishing now if only I had waited and became Australia’s first female PM entering through the front door instead of what has now become the controversial back door.

    • Ben says:

      09:09am | 10/11/12

      >Now, with her retirement, there is talk of ex-president Bill (42) succeeding her at the State Department.

      If there is talk, it should stay at that. The dignity of the office should require that a former president not return as a subordinate. But in Bill Clinton’s case, his enormous popularity could translate into a ‘de facto’ presidency, hence a threat to Obama and an overshadowing of his leadership.

      In any event Obama’s probably chuckling behind the scenes at the suggestion, perhaps saying “He could have a job bringing us coffee”.

    • stephen says:

      09:23am | 10/11/12

      By the look of that picture I don’t think their horse came in either.

      (Maybe Barney getting on a ship to Pakistan.)

    • Anjuli says:

      09:25am | 10/11/12

      There is one thing I have noticed about Americans they have always had the gift of the gab ,even small ankle biters ,the thing is is there substance behind the talk.As for Julia Gillard or others in Parliament , will never be in the same category as the likes of JFK or Winston Churchill for their word power now they had substance,even if one couldn’t keep in his pants.

    • Mick S says:

      10:08am | 10/11/12

      So, what were the lessons from the US election?
      Enormous sums of money can be donated anonymously.
      Efforts can be made to make it more difficult for some citizens to vote.
      The voting mechanism varies from county to county and is subject to claims of inaccuracy and bias.
      Those wishing to vote may have to line up for hours.
      The party with the majority of votes will not obtain the majority of seats in the house of representatives, due to gerrymandering.
      Is it time for UN observers to be called in to ensure free and fair elections?

    • TC says:

      11:58am | 10/11/12

      The Anericans are a strange bunch. They are actually quite fascist in their thinking, hence the willingness to pass leadership of their country between a few selected families. Also their love of their military and waging war. How another Bush could even be remotely considered after what Bush Jnr did to their nation, is mind-boggling.

    • Pete says:

      12:56pm | 10/11/12

      Another oddity: the American government is socialist when it comes to housing. Forced financing of people who could never repay a home loan saw rapacious financiers package up dud debts and on-sell them, creating the GFC. But behind it all was social engineering of Fanny Mae et al to give poor people a home they could never pay for. And of course, they socialised the losses of the banks too.  Very odd.

    • stephen says:

      06:54pm | 10/11/12

      Those ‘selected families’ are Old Money, and presidential campaigns rely on a steady income for endorsements.
      I’m glad for those wars because I wouldn’t want to live in Nazi Germany, or North Korea - but admittedly Vietnam was our mistake ... and not their’s ? - and I reckon that not no-one’s wife would want to live anywhre east of Lisbon.
      Lisbon’s OK, but I’d rather live here, or the US.
      Hey ?


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