Ever wonder why politicians kiss babies? The answer is weirder than you think.

Political campaigns are wrought with cliché.

From the red, white, and blue banners to stump speeches in local coffee houses and coal plants to ceremonial balloon drops triggered by victory announcements. (What happens to the balloons if they lose though?)

But one image has survived longer than any other as the reigning champion of pander-y political campaign PR.


This one:

Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images.

The hero politician gleefully planting a smooch on the head of a baby who has been offered sacrificially by a nearby parent. The baby stares listlessly or crankily into the distance, wondering perhaps if this kind puckering stranger is their new dad.

Really, every politician does it. Republicans ... Democrats ... Russians...

Well, he tried. Photo by Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images.

If you're running for elected office, or trying to keep your current post, kissing babies is the name of the game.

Kissing tiny humans for political gain actually goes back quite a ways.

No one knows for sure who the first politician to do it was, but the act is believed to have originated with an incident involving Andrew Jackson. While touring the Eastern states in 1833, he was approached by a woman with a baby in her arm.

Jackson campaigning in 1829. Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images

"Ah! There is a fine specimen of American childhood," said Jackson. "I think, madam, your boy will make a fine man some day." He then handed the boy to nearby secretary of war saying, "Eaton, kiss him?"

That boy's name? Barack Obama.

(Just kidding. Even if the timelines worked, Jackson would never be seen with baby Obama because he was a racist genocidal maniac who profited off slave labor and kicked 46,000 Native Americans out of their homes.)

Dick. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Anyway, by 1886 the act had become so widespread that "Babyhood," a 19th century magazine for mothers, covered it in one of their columns:

"History fails to record the name of the politician who first adopted the above method of gaining the favor of mothers. Henry Clay, Tom Corwin, and Van Buren did a good deal in that line; and I believe it was Davy Crockett who boasted that he had kissed every baby in his district."

Since then, it's been the go-to act for politicians looking to earn the favor of their constituents.

The George W. Bush Presidential Library's "Path to the Presidency" exhibit even has a section on the political history of baby kissing from Jackson to Hubert Humphrey.

Photo courtesy of George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Why do they do it? After all, it's not like babies can vote.

And don't forget, before 1920, neither could their mothers. So who exactly are they pandering to?

The fact is, what we look for in a leader is ... complicated.

A president or any other elected official has to have many qualities and represent many values at the same time. You have to convey strength, leadership, and modesty in different and often contradictory ways.

On the campaign trail, you can score political points by touting yourself as the strongest, toughest, not-gonna-take-this-bullshit-anymore-est candidate in the race. But you score votes by being relatable, by shaking hands, and by being a candidate of the people.

Mitt Romney tried to overcome his "elite" status in 2012 by taking off his tie, rolling up his sleeves, and campaigning more with people on the ground. It wasn't enough. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The "perfect candidate" is strong enough to take on our enemies, but gentle and caring enough to pick up a baby and hold it. The perfect candidate is ... apparently ... a man.

Or at least society's image of a man. You know: a strong, upright, broad-shouldered gentleman with a sensitive side. A down-home guy with perfect teeth who's willing to lay down his life to protect yours but still enjoys long walks on the beach.

Admit it, America. It's not just a dating site trope. It's who we've elected pretty much every single time.

Needless to say, that macho-man-with-a-soft-spot-for-infants image makes the entire electoral process significantly harder to navigate if you're a woman running for office.

You might want to put her down, Hil. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

When voters see displays of stereotypical femininity from a female candidate (like kissing babies), they don't register it positively.

According to research from Nichole Bauer at the University of Alabama, voters associate those "feminine" actions with all kinds of negative, outdated, and backward female stereotypes, like being overly emotional, sensitive, and weak. Which, in turn, hurts their campaigns.

"Attributing stereotypical feminine characteristics to women candidates does tend to activate gendered concepts that reduce people’s support for women running for office," writes Bauer.

So while men can steal a quick political boost off every infant's forehead, this gendered double standard means women running for the same office risk hurting their political careers.

It's a phenomenon sometimes referred to as the "motherhood penalty."

Need I say more? Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

If you haven't noticed, one of the current frontrunners in the 2016 president race is a woman.

A woman who has spoken time and time again about the particular complications and unique double standards women face when navigating the political landscape.

It's absurd that next time a female candidate is handed a baby on the campaign trail, unlike her male opponents, she'd be better off handing it back without a kiss (just imagine how that would play out in the press). There's no way for a female candidate to "win" when it comes to this bizarre tradition of kissing babies. She kisses the baby and she's too weak; she hands it back and she's too cold.

Please, folks, stop giving presidential candidates your babies. And let's leave this gendered double standard in history, where it belongs. For everyone's sake.

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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Years later, when Di Camillo found himself in prison after collecting a lengthy rap sheet of thefts, he discovered a library full of those same magazines.

While other inmates were working out or getting into trouble, he pored over old issues of National Geographic, Life, and Time.

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There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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