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?