Vanity Fair’s T.A Frank decided to place his head in the lion’s jaws with this piece about how Democrats and their allies in the media should stop trying to make Chelsea Clinton happen. It’s not, namely because the Clintons, as a political dynasty, are an end—and we’ve closed their chapter in American politics back in November of 2016. Still, she’s viewed as someone who is in waiting. That she’s somehow a political seed that could sprout into a resurgence of Democratic dominance. Frank noted how pretty much the suitability of someone in a dynasty, like the Bush family, for higher office wanes after the second iteration. Jeb Bush met that ignominious end in the Republican primaries. He also noted how, and this is definitely a liberal bias here, no one is buttering up the Bush daughters to run for president, even though one, Barbara, runs Global Health Corps. The former first daughter was recently featured on the cover of Variety, and that exposure, along with other media-related events, has stirred the pot for political ambition for those on the sidelines.
Frank wrote that Chelsea just needs to stop, while adding that the excitement over the younger Clinton is spawned from desperation, a rather explicit sign that the Democratic Party and the media know that the bench to replace the old Guard is appallingly slim. In all, Frank took Chelsea hype to the woodshed, though it’s clear that the media also isn’t helping the matter in trying to elevate someone who is certainly not of the same caliber as her parents. He joked about whether the Russians were behind this Chelsea campaign that seems destined to end in disaster:
Amid investigations into Russian election interference, perhaps we ought to consider whether the Kremlin, to hurt Democrats, helped put Chelsea Clinton on the cover of Variety. Or maybe superstition explains it. Like tribesmen laying out a sacrifice to placate King Kong, news outlets continue to make offerings to the Clinton gods.[...]
One wishes to calm these publications: You can stop this now. Haven’t you heard that the great Kong is no more? Nevertheless, they’ve persisted. At great cost: increased Chelsea exposure is tied closely to political despair and, in especially intense cases, the bulk purchasing of MAGA hats.
Perhaps the best way to start is by revisiting some of Chelsea’s major post-2008 forays into the public eye. Starting in 2012, she began to allow glossy magazines to profile her, and she picked up speed in the years that followed. The results were all friendly in aim, and yet the picture that kept emerging from the growing pile of Chelsea quotations was that of a person accustomed to courtiers nodding their heads raptly. Here are Chelsea’s thoughts on returning to red meat in her diet: “I’m a big believer in listening to my body’s cravings.” On her time in the “fiercely meritocratic” workplace of Wall Street: “I was curious if I could care about [money] on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t.” On her precocity: “They told me that my father had learned to read when he was three. So, of course, I thought I had to too. The first thing I learned to read was the newspaper.” Take that, Click, Clack, Moo.
What comes across with Chelsea, for lack of a gentler word, is self-regard of an unusual intensity. And the effect is stronger on paper. Unkind as it is to say, reading anything by Chelsea Clinton—tweets, interviews, books—is best compared to taking in spoonfuls of plain oatmeal that, periodically, conceal a toenail clipping.
To find fault with the former First Daughter is to invite the wrath of thousands. Love of Chelsea correlates closely with love of Hillary, toward whom her fans have long felt an odd protectiveness, as if she were a stroke survivor regaining the power of speech rather than one of the most influential people in the world. That goes even more for Chelsea, who is often treated less like an independent 37-year-old multi-millionaire and more like the 12-year-old who still deserves to be left alone.
God has decreed that American political dynasties decline sharply in suitability for office with each iteration. Call it the George H.W.-George W.-Jeb rule. Quit after the first iteration. Don’t trot out the second one. And, for the love of God, don’t trot out the third. Forgetting that rule harmed the Democratic Party in 2016 and blew up the Republican Party entirely. The Democratic Party is surprisingly cohesive these days, thanks to anti-Trump sentiment, so a Jeb-style destruction is unlikely. But never say never. If anyone could make it happen, Chelsea could.
I’m not so sure about the Democratic cohesion part. If anything showed during the Democratic Unity tour with DNC chair Tom Perez and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who isn’t a Democrat, there were many divisions, boos, and heckling of the former. The progressive wing wants to go leftward and fight Trump. The establishment also wants to fight Trump, but won’t commit hardcore to Sander’s social agenda, specifically health care, which has caused heartburn. And now, they seem on the precipice of civil war over whether to back pro-life Democrats or not. Several heavyweights within the party, Perez, Dean, Durbin, Warren, etc., are offering different messages. One thing is clear. Some of this Chelsea stuff is getting absurd. Take this portion from her book, “It’s Your World (Get Informed! Get Inspired! Get Going!)”
I wrote a letter to President Reagan when I was five to voice my opposition to his visit to the Bitburg cemetery in Germany, because Nazis were buried there. I didn’t think an American president should honor a group of soldiers that included Nazis. President Reagan still went, but at least I had tried in my own small way.
Frank mocked the notion that at the age of five Chelsea could digest news at the maturity level of an adult.
“Ah, yes, that reminds me of when I was four and I wrote to Senator John Warner about grain tariffs, arguing that trade barriers unfairly decreased consumer choice,” he wrote in response.
This just isn’t serious and if Chelsea 2020 or 2024 does happen, it will probably be because she was dragooned into it. That’s never a good sign.