Comparative American Dynasties

Article excerpt

I haven't seen it noted and it's probably arcane information of interest only to members of the hot-stove league of political observers who are always talking politics. But it's time someone mentioned that, should the president be reelected, the Bushes will have the opportunity to become the longest-serving family in the White House.

The Bushes are the only father and son to serve in the presidency since John Adams (1797-1801) and John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) each served a term. A minor detail, but historians will note it. And if George W. wins and finishes a second term, they'll probably also note that the Bush family time in the White House comes close to that of the longest-serving White House resident, Franklin D. Roosevelt - who served three full terms and a few months of a fourth.

We're only nearing the midpoint of George W.'s first term, and his reelection opportunity seems a distance away. But his political aides are already shaping strategy for that campaign. And Bush's possible Democratic opponents in '04 are beginning to make their moves.

The other morning I listened to one likely Democratic candidate - Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut - talking to journalists at a Monitor breakfast. He was detailing elements of his plan for restructuring the federal government to better cope with the terrorist threat. His approach would, he said, bring about less disruption and more efficiency than the plan pushed by the president.

The reporters who packed the Chandelier Room at the St. Regis Hotel were there mainly because Mr. Lieberman is one of the most highly regarded members of the Senate, and they were interested in his ideas on legislation. But I saw a number of journalists who cover only politics and who would not have been there had it not been that Lieberman - Al Gore's running mate on the '00 Democratic ticket - might say something that would move him closer to being an openly declared presidential candidate next time around. …