Obama Winning Even Though He Has Daughters

National Review's Keith Williamson can't fathom why Alpha Male Mitt Romney is having so much trouble beating Girly Man Barack Obama.

National Review‘s Keith Williamson can’t fathom why Alpha Male Mitt Romney is having so much trouble beating Girly Man Barack Obama.

You want off-the-charts status? Check out the curriculum vitae of one Willard M. Romney: $200 million in the bank (and a hell of a lot more if he didn’t give so much away), apex alpha executive, CEO, chairman of the board, governor, bishop, boss of everything he’s ever touched. Son of the same, father of more. It is a curious scientific fact (explained in evolutionary biology by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis — Willard, notice) that high-status animals tend to have more male offspring than female offspring, which holds true across many species, from red deer to mink to Homo sap. The offspring of rich families are statistically biased in favor of sons — the children of the general population are 51 percent male and 49 percent female, but the children of theForbes billionaire list are 60 percent male. Have a gander at that Romney family picture: five sons, zero daughters. Romney has 18 grandchildren, and they exceed a 2:1 ratio of grandsons to granddaughters (13:5). When they go to church at their summer-vacation home, the Romney clan makes up a third of the congregation. He is basically a tribal chieftain.

Professor Obama? Two daughters. May as well give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes.

From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it. He should get Michelle Obama’s vote. You can insert your own Mormon polygamy joke here, but the ladies do tend to flock to successful executives and entrepreneurs. Saleh al-Rajhi, billionaire banker, left behind 61 children when he cashed out last year. We don’t do harems here, of course, but Romney is exactly the kind of guy who in another time and place would have the option of maintaining one. He’s a boss. Given that we are no longer roaming the veldt for the most part, money is a reasonable stand-in for social status. Romney’s net worth is more than that of the last eight U.S. presidents combined. He set up a trust for his grandkids and kicked in about seven times Barack Obama’s net worth, which at $11.8 million is not inconsiderable but probably less than Romney’s tax bill in a good year. If he hadn’t given away so much money to his church, charities, and grandkids, Mitt Romney would have more money than Jay-Z.

Presumably, Williamson had the same science teacher as Todd Akin. Granting that, as the father of two daughters and no sons, I’m a little sensitive on the subject, what exactly is the evidence that having male offspring goes with being high-status?

It’s hard to get more high-status than Leader of the Free World. Yet the current holder of that office has two girls and no boys. His immediate predecessor? Two girls and no boys. POTUS twice-removed? One girl, no boys. George HW Bush? Four boys (one himself a POTUS, another a governor) but also two girls. Ronald Reagan? Three girls, two boys (one adopted). Carter: Three boys and one girl. Ford: Three boys, one girl. Nixon: Two girls. LBJ: Two girls.

Now, as with Forbes billionaires, the sample size here is way too small to draw any meaningful conclusions. But, at least in my lifetime, whatever defect that causes men to produce female children hasn’t been an impediment to becoming president. The above list constitutes all holders of the office in my lifetime and they combined for sixteen girls and eleven boys sired—fifteen girls and nine boys if one excludes Ford, who wasn’t actually elected.

As to their desirability as mates, my sense is that both Romney and Obama are above the threshold. Both, after all, managed to get smart, attractive women to marry and have children with them.

It’s true that Romney has made a lot more money than Obama, but he did start out with a significant head start. Additionally, while Obama chose lines of work—community service, teaching, and politics—that are less lucrative than high finance, one imagines that a man with his academic credentials and persuasive talents could have been successful in that world. And, of course, he’s a multi-millionaire despite all that and hasn’t yet hit his peak earning years. One suspects that, come 2013 or 2017 (depending on what happens in November) he’ll start raking in the cash.

Correction: The original stated that Carter had only one child, a girl. While Amy was the most famous, as she was much younger and thus lived with the Carters during the White House years, Jimmy and Rosalyn had three sons: Jack, Chip, and Jeff. Additionally, Michael Reagan was adopted which, while it doesn’t make him any less Ronald’s son, means he doesn’t count for Williamson’s purposes.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Gender Issues, Parenting, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Romney’s an alpha male? He seems like a bit of a wussy to me actually. Certainly not a guy I’d worry about throwing down with. He’s a privileged little twit who had his life handed to him on a silver platter. Alpha? Hah.

  2. Did The Onion acquire NR while I was sleeping?

  3. JohnMcC says:

    Mr Williamson is probably trying to imagine Mr Romney in a flight-suit, with a cod-piece, on the deck of a carrier…. and drops of persperation short out his keyboard…

  4. @JohnMcC:

    Gawd. TMI

  5. J-Dub says:

    The current and previous presidents listed did have a lot of daughters, but they had no dancing horses. Not very alpha Mittens, not even sigma, more like zeta.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Accidentally hit down vote JP. Large thumb small phone.

  7. @michael reynolds:

    No problem. I was wondering if it was an Onion hater or an NR lover 😉

  8. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I’ve never before heard of this guy Williamson, and I don’t feel like wasting too much time reading other items of his to try to discern his style and M.O., but I strongly suspect that that article of his merely is one of those tongue in cheek items that some conservatives sometimes write merely to tweak liberals. Keep in mind the demographics of the Internet’s audience and remember that it’s real easy to get leftists to get their panties all in bunches. I seriously doubt Williamson is being literal or serious.

  9. In response to this, Mark Thoma wrote:

    “Niall Ferguson should say thank you, because this might take the spotlight off of him (well, until the next time he tries to play economist on the internet).”

  10. @Tsar Nicholas:

    Yes Tsar, destroying one’s brand, to tweak the liberals. Genius.

  11. Murray says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:
    “I’ve never before heard of this guy Williamson, …. I strongly suspect that that article of his merely is one of those tongue in cheek items…I seriously doubt Williamson is being literal or serious. ”

    NR in general, and Wilkinson in particular, are not known for practicing tongue in cheek humor.

  12. Fiona says:

    Good grief! The Neaderthals are really coming out in force this week, aren’t they?

  13. george says:

    The son/daughter thing is just bad science, which is par for the course for National Review, so no big deal.

    I’m having a harder time seeing Romney as an alpha male. In fact, very few politicians strike me as being alpha types (in fact, I suspect that’s why they go into politics), but Romney? Seriously?

  14. Scott says:

    The right has been doing a lot of projecting this year. For some bizarre reason, I thought of Forbidden Planet and “Monsters from the Id”.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But, at least in my lifetime, whatever defect that causes men to produce female children hasn’t been an impediment to becoming president.

    Sarcasm, James?

    Also, as the father of 2 sons, no daughters(always wanted one but then again there was my ex), I guess I am just the epitome of the super alpha centaurius of male-dom? Or maybe I am just another broken down union carpenter playing out his string.

    The collective IQ of conservative analysis just dropped another 30 points.

    Ps: I do have a granddaughter and yes, I am wrapped around her finger. Best thing to ever happen to me.

  16. al-Ameda says:

    Romney is inauthentic in posing as an Alpha Male too. He’d be the guy who wals into a room wearing his ‘mom jeans’ and a polo shirt and says stuff like. “I’m not going to apologize for being successful” – oh wait, that’s him.

    Seriously, Mitt may be a lot of things – phony, inauthentic, wealthy – but he’s not a n Alpha Male.

  17. swearyanthony says:

    Granting that, as the father of two daughters and no sons, I’m a little sensitive

    See? That’s what Williamson was talking about.

  18. sam says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    I strongly suspect that that article of his merely is one of those tongue in cheek items that some conservatives sometimes write merely to tweak liberals

    See, the problem that surmise is, even if that were the intent, the boobocracy that makes up the base of the GOP will glom onto such a piece and, faster than you can say, “Jesus’s Underwear”, it becomes part of the gospel of why Obama is the Antichrist or sumthin.

  19. mantis says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    I strongly suspect that that article of his merely is one of those tongue in cheek items that some conservatives sometimes write merely to tweak liberals.

    Translation: Oh god, did I say that? Umm….I was just tweaking liberals, FTW!

  20. sam says:

    @Scott:

    The right has been doing a lot of projecting this year. For some bizarre reason, I thought of Forbidden Planet and “Monsters from the Id”.

    Except Robbie’s got more personality that Mitt.

  21. MBunge says:

    To the extent you can take Williamson’s nonsense seriously, it’s as a sign of an interesting paradox. Conservatives have made a deliberate effort to capture and identify with concepts of masculinity, yet in doing so, they’ve wound up twisting and distorting those concepts almost beyond recognition. I mean, how many of today’s leading lights on the Right would qualify as “manly men” even by today’s standards, let alone the expectations of the 1950s?

    Mike

  22. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s hard to get more high-status than Leader of the Free World. Yet the current holder of that office has two girls and no boys. His immediate predecessor? Two girls and no boys. POTUS twice-removed? One girl, no boys. George HW Bush? Four boys (one himself a POTUS, another a governor) but also two girls. Ronald Reagan? Three girls, two boys. Carter: One girl. Ford: Three boys, one girl. Nixon: Two girls. LBJ: Two girls.

    Carter had one girl and three boys, not just one girl.
    And Ronald Reagan was the father of three girls and one boy. (Michael Reagan was adopted, so unless Wilkinson thinks Obama can adopt 10 boys tomorrow and become the super alpha male….)

    I wonder if Wilkinson thinks that Carter was the alpha male in 1980?

  23. PJ says:

    (Williamson not Wilkinson….)

  24. Al says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    At best he’s demonstrating how Poe’s Law works. Like everyone else, I don’t see how that’s at all helpful to Romney. It certainly does nothing to dispel the idea that conservatives have very, very, very deep seated problems with women.

  25. Jen says:

    Hang in there James. Science says that more attractive couples have daughters:

    http://tiny.cc/ra0hjw

  26. Me Me Me says:

    So, Obama is a pussy because he has daughters.

    But the idea that Republicans hate women is just something that Democrats plucked out of thing air for their own convenience.

  27. c.red says:

    From Oxford University, a study proposing a better, high quality diet tends to favor sons –
    http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2008/080423.html

    If it is to be believed then it all it indicates is Romney has always been wealthy.

  28. dennis says:

    James, I think Michael was the adopted son.

  29. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yes, sarcasm.

    @PJ: @dennis: Right! Corrections appended.

  30. jukeboxgrad says:

    Williamson is expressing a core concept of Republicanism: the worship of money. This includes the worship of people who worship money. Like Mitt.

    These people should pay more attention to what Jesus said about the rich and the poor.

  31. dennis says:

    Okay, so in one fell swoop, Williamson has defined women as genetically-inclined gold-diggers; elevated boys over girls, pretty much calling girls second-best; reinforced the “Black-males-can-be-successful-only-in-music-and-sports stereotype;” and pretty much relegated homosexuals to non-existence, not even mentioning them in the piece. Wow. Just, wow.

  32. DRS says:

    Okay, not to be a nit-picker but who was/is Reagan’s third daughter? I remember two boys (Michael and Ron Jr.) and two girls (Maureen and Patti). I can’t remember which was from which marriage.

  33. mantis says:

    @DRS:

    Reagan’s other daughter Christine (with his first wife Jane Wyman) was born prematurely and died the same day. This is thought to have contributed to their divorce the next year.

  34. al-Ameda says:

    @dennis:

    Okay, so in one fell swoop, Williamson has defined women as genetically-inclined gold-diggers; elevated boys over girls, pretty much calling girls second-best; reinforced the “Black-males-can-be-successful-only-in-music-and-sports stereotype;” and pretty much relegated homosexuals to non-existence, not even mentioning them in the piece. Wow. Just, wow.

    Breathtaking, right?
    When it comes to wide-ranging disrespect, no one can top conservative bloggers.

  35. grumpy realist says:

    @al-Ameda: And then they sit and whine about “why won’t women vote for us?”

    Because you’re acting like 5 year old boys, you effin’ idiots.

  36. swbarnes2 says:

    As the father of two daughters, the outright scorn for women doesn’t bother you enough to mention?

    The idea that your daughters should be like animals, voting for politicians not because of their policies, (how can someone with fallopian tubes hope to understand those?) but because they are genetically drawn to obey and support men who sire men?

    But no, you are sensitive because your masculinity has been inpugned, and you spend your whole essay frantically debunking the insult to you, and not one word about how vile the whole thing is towards women.

    So I guess the rampant misogyny is not one of the things you intend to change from the inside of conservatism. That explains a lot, actually.