Happy political families are all alike . . .and battling political families are pretty similar, too.
We speak, of course, of the classic family feud, where two or more relatives with famous names disagree publicly. That doesn’t mean they don’t love each other — but it probably makes for some awkward Thanksgiving dinners.
The latest internecine battle comes from Wyoming Senate candidate Liz Cheney and her sister, Mary Cheney. Liz has come out strongly against gay marriage — despite the fact that younger sister Mary married longtime partner Heather Poe last year in D.C. (Even dad Dick Cheney supports same-sex unions.) “For the record, I love my sister, but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage,” Mary posted on Facebook late last month.
Same-sex marriage is the hot-button issue du jour in lots of A-list families: Candace Gingrich and her brother Newt disagree, as do Meghan McCain and her dad, Sen. John McCain. In the ’80s, outspoken liberal Patti Davis famously clashed with parents Ronald and Nancy Reagan over just about everything; now she’s feuding with conservative brother Michael Reagan: Patti maintains their father would have supported gay marriage, Michael says he would never have gone that far. “We’ve always had different opinions,” Patti told The Daily Beast. “I certainly have no control of what Michael says. We’re cordial.”
It’s always something — traditionally about money and/or the family legacy. A brewing feud between Vicki Kennedy and her stepsons over the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate went public last year in an article in the Boston Globe. In 2011, former ambassador Elizabeth Bagley settled a lawsuit with her stepchildren over their father’s estate. And Tricia and Julie Nixon fought for control of their father’s presidential library: a five-year fight so serious they stopped speaking to each other. Their lawsuit was settled in 2002 through court-ordered mediation. The two again clashed — ideologically — during the 2008 presidential race: Julie supported Barack Obama; Tricia backed John McCain.
We turned to Capitol Hill expecting juicy tales of family discord — but spokespeople for the Sanchez sisters and the Udall cousins (who have co-sponsored legislation together) didn’t get back to us. And the question stumped staffers for Sen. Carl Levin and Rep. Sander Levin.
“I don’t think you’ll find any issue where the Levin brothers disagree,” said the congressman’s communications director, noting that they even call each other to confer about Michigan state policy issues. “Maybe on the squash court?”
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