The Guardian fan-girls over yet another Clinton – by Amanda S. Green
I know. I know. I was supposed to have blogged yesterday. Life has been “interesting” in more ways than one of late and time got away from me. I sent Sarah and apology and a promise to have something for her today. Later, she sent me a link to an article with the comment, “If you want something to snark . . .” Well, it took reading only the first paragraph to know snark won out. I needed something to snark and, OMG, she gave it to me. Of course, it is easy – and almost a duty – to snark anything in The Guardian [Teh Grauniad – ed.] and doubly so when any member of the Clinton family is involved.
You see, according to The Guardian, US media refers to Chelsea Clinton as “royalty”. They do so because she grew up in the Arkansas governor’s mansion and left for university from the White House. She’s special because of that, you see. “It is a uniquely strange and unenviable version of celebrity that stole Clinton’s anonymity before she was old enough to spell it.” I guess they’ve never heard of Caroline Kennedy or John F. Kennedy, Jr. Both of whom were thrust into the spotlight because of their family name, the fact their father was president, his assassination and their mother’s own fame. Or how about How about Lynda Bird and Luci Baines Johnson, daughters of Lyndon B. Johnson, former U.S. representative, senator, vice-president and then president? They grew up in politics and had the spotlight on them all their lives thanks to their father. Or Amy Carter, Jimmeh’s daughter? Or any one of numerous other children of politicians – or Hollywood stars – who grew up in the spotlight because of who their parents were? Nothing about Chelsea Clinton’s childhood makes her “royalty” much less makes her childhood “unique”.
Perhaps the writer doesn’t know what “uniquely”, which comes from the word “unique”, means. According to the dictionary, “unique” means “existing as the only one or as the sole example”. Considering the examples I’ve already given, not to mention others I could give, I’m pretty sure she hasn’t a clue about the meaning, at least not in this context.
But let’s go one.
Perhaps “pretentious” would have been a better word to use when describing Chelsea. First, the day before the interview, the writer spoke with one of Chelsea’s “handlers” who left her wondering how far she’d be able to go off-script in the upcoming interview. Then, the next day, the interview was held at The Clinton Foundation, in a “discreetly unadvertised expanse of midtown Manhattan office space populated by serious-looking people and elegantly adorned by African-inspired artwork chosen by Clinton’s father.” Oh, and the interview itself didn’t take place in a simple office or coffee room. Oh no. A Clinton could never be that normal. It took place in the board room. Yes, there is a psychology to this, one the author apparently either didn’t recognize or chose to ignore. It was Chelsea making sure her own importance, and her control, wasn’t overlooked.
Three paragraphs in – and they are long paragraphs – we have yet to hear anything about Chelsea’s book, the reason for the interview. There have been two, maybe three, references to the fact she ahs a new book out. But dayam, this is a fan girl’s scree to a Clinton. She’s soooo wonderful. She started the interview precisely on time. She was soooo informed about British current events. She noticed the author’s medical sleeve and asked about it and about the origin of her first name, “Decca”. It’s as if she’d never conducted an interview before with someone who had grown up being groomed for public speaking and service. Trust me, Decca, Slick Willie trained his daughter well, much better than her mother did, when it comes to connecting to people.
Finally, in the fourth paragraph, we get to the book, “She Persisted Around the World”. Well, we sort of do. We finally get the title. We know it is a sequel to another book Clinton put out. But most of the paragraph deals with how the original book got its title from the confrontation between Mitch McConnell and Elizabeth Warren when McConnell used Senate rules to stop Warren from reading a letter from Martin Luther King, Jr. Of course, good ole Decca is full of condemnation for McConnell and his “scathing attack” on Warren and his use of an “obscure senate rule” to silence her. Nothing, of course, is said about why he used the rule and little is said about how she had been warned, more than once, that she was in violation of Senate rules. That wouldn’t fit the narrative of an evil white male silencing a woman and we much stay true to the narrative, no matter what the cost to truth.
You see, Clinton wants to show girls they can be whatever they want to be. Okay, that’s cool. But let’s look deeper. Using research from the Geena Davis Institute – Yes, it is THAT Geena Davis and the full name is the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media. Sorry, am I the only one to laugh hysterically about this? – to prove her point that the vast majority of cartoons have male protagonists, Clinton wants to see this change. She wants little girls – and, of course, little boys – to know girls can be more than sisters or mothers, friends or partners. She quotes Sally Ride, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
Ride’s quote, while accurate, was taken out of context. It came from an interview she did and was in response to being asked about being a role model and the transition from astronaut to public face of her company. Ride basically said she didn’t become a physicist or an astronaut to be a role model. However, after her first flight, she realized she had become a role model. That’s when she said, “Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see.”
On the surface, Clinton appears to be supporting what Ride said. But then, when you look at it closer, you can see where she is using the quote to advance her own agenda. You see, she wants girls to be “more” than best friends or partners, more than sisters or mothers. No where in her interview does she seem to say it is okay if that is all the girl wants. Ride, on the other hand, makes it clear that girls need role models in “whatever careers they may choose” and, yes, motherhood, etc., can and is a career. But, again, that doesn’t fit the narrative.
Clinton says, “It’s so often the case that our stories are centred around men, told by men, the heroes are men – and so I think it’s hugely important that we make women more visible in the stories in our history that have always existed, but also to imagine and create more female-centred stories moving forward.”
Wow. Just wow. I feel sorry for her. To grow up in a home with a supposed feminist mother and not having known those stories already exist. I’m older than Chelsea. I grew up in a home with books about Marie Curie and other women in history. I can walk into my study and find books about Abigail Adams, Mary Todd Lincoln, Marie Curie and so many others. Books that my parents had. I can find novels with female leads, strong female leads. I didn’t need to see women in roles I wanted to be in. Why? Because my parents told me that, as long as I did my best, I could try for anything. I might not always get it – they were realists after all and not trying to raise a precious little snowflake – but I could try. Apparently, Chelsea either didn’t have this or she doesn’t believe there are parents out there who don’t rely on the media to raise their kids.
Yep, this comes back to the media. Remember, she is using the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media to justify her work. I guess you have to reach for something when your dad was philandering in the Oval Office when you were a kid and your mother refuses to admit she lost the fucking presidency not once but twice.
She has talked in the past about inheriting her maternal grandmother’s “responsibility gene”, and mentions to me that her daughter’s nursery has been encouraging conversations about the concept of fairness. “It gives us the chance to talk with her about what is fair, and that she already has unfair advantages because of who her parents are. I don’t think she really understands the concept of privilege yet, but I want her to be able to understand that as soon as she’s old enough to.
Oh. My. Ghu. She has to have her daughter’s nursery “encouraging conversations about the concept of fairness”. If she is so “woke”, why is this even necessary? She should have already been having this discussion. Oh, and let’s not forget this is with her three-year-old daughter. Mmmm, yeah, I also “don’t think she really understands the concept”. She’s three! Maybe instead to talking to her about privilege, Chelsea should be talking to her about what is right and wrong, what is nice and what’s not. But nooo, this is so much more “woke” and sounds so much better to the other “woke” folks.
There is so much more but all it shows is what we already knew. The Guardian, if it ever knew what journalistic integrity is, has long forgotten its meaning. Pretty much like how the author of this article has forgotten the meanings of the words like “unique” and “lifelong impossibility of being” Chelsea Clinton. OMFG. You can almost hear the squees, in full fan-girl mode, of Decca as she writes about Clinton. For an article that is supposed to be about Clinton’s book, well, it isn’t. It is about how wonderful Clinton is, how strong she is for having survived being Clinton, etc. There isn’t enough snark – or enough booze – to keep reading.
What it all boils down to is this – Clinton isn’t Trump. Evil Trump. Bad Trump. She doesn’t do her father’s dirty work like Ivanka does. She even manages to get in a passive-aggressive slap at Barbara Bush in the interview. Yes, the interview that was supposed to be about her book but which surprisingly – or not – turned into a political interview. Remember when Decca lamented that she worried about how far afield Chelsea would go from the stated purpose of the interview? I think it is clear this was never going to be an interview about her book. This was a very carefully planned attack on the current administration and a set up for either her mother’s next run for office or her own political future.
Poor little Chelsea, sitting high in her mommy’s and daddy’s foundation, looking at her name on the door and knowing she has to do something to live up to their “legacy”, no matter what that legacy might be. I hate to tell her this but her family never has been and never will be the Kennedys, no matter how hard they try.
One thing does come clear as you read the article, however. Chelsea learned how to manipulate and communicate from her father. She is much smoother than her mother ever will be. This is something to keep in mind. Slick Willie has a daughter who can be as slick as he. Will she be satisfied with her “work” for the foundation and her writing or will she soon stick her toe into the political waters? Only time will tell but I know where my money is.
And no, I am not going to read her book. I’ve already read one Clinton’s book and my liver is still recovering. I think I would almost rather read Michelle O’s book than this.
Sarah, you own me a drink or three for having waded through this trash. I should have known better. Grumble. Grumble.