Time Essay: A New Idea: Leave the Family at Home

The first coup d'état in American history was not unexpected. There had been telltale signs. Just as a Soviet official's demotion is revealed when he fails to show up in a Kremlin photograph, so the President had disappeared from recent White House portraits. His signature on bills looked suspiciously shaky, and there were rumors of a last swim in the White House pool.

Then the truth was known. The First Family had seized power. Since its members had done so much campaigning, they reasoned that they should be allowed to serve. The First Lady...