The Corner

Culture

Celebrating Chelsea

In response to Cfr Upheld

Jonah,

Chelsea Clinton is a topic that seems to jump immediately to my last nerve, particularly profiles that assert that she is someone extraordinary on her own merits and achievements, not extraordinary in the sense that she’s the only woman in the world with her parents.

Back during Bill’s presidency (and to a certain extent, during her mother’s campaign) there was an intermittently-enforced rule against mocking Chelsea Clinton, or speaking insufficiently respectfully of her. That rule was a fair one; teenaged Chelsea hadn’t asked to be born to a scandal-plagued president or to live in the national fishbowl that is the White House. She deserved as normal a childhood and young adulthood as she could get, and a lot of us were perfectly happy to let her go off and live a happy life out of the spotlight as an adult.

But she chose to step back into the spotlight. After a few years of attempting to work in consulting and at hedge funds, she concluded she “couldn’t care about money on a fundamental level.” (Perhaps the ultimate luxury.) Then, with no experience in television journalism, had her people call up the networks and set up a bidding war for her services as a correspondent. She made $600,000 per year for part-time work at NBC, generating what the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik called “a handful of reports that no self-respecting affiliate in a top 20 market would air.” She was named an “assistant vice provost” at NYU at age 30. 

Almost everything she does is decreed to be extraordinary by some other media voice that probably would like to be closer to the Clintons. She gets picked to give the keynote address at South by Southwest. Last year she was honored as one of Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year,” and Katie Couric decreed, “I think it’s safe to say, probably a ‘Mom of the Year.’” — after giving birth to her first child six weeks earlier.

Now she makes $1,083 per minute speaking to public universities

The comparison to a princess is a pretty accurate one, and you’re right, the profile piece in the Post doesn’t quite gush. But throwing jobs, awards, opportunities, speaking fees, and other honors at Chelsea seems to have been a pretty easy way to build goodwill with an ex-president and a future president, and I feel like we’ve all been asked to avert our eyes from this. 

Oh, stop.

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