For a long time now, those of us who have the misfortune to have working eyes and ears have become deeply familiar with the activities of one family. This family is (still) taken very seriously by some very serious people, in spite of the fact that vast numbers of us would rather eat chlorine-flavored ice cream than ever hear from them again.
Like some sort of deathless voodoo incantation, the name of this family echoes around the world. It echoes in high-altitude frosted glass conference rooms filled with international bores. It echoes in the frazzled minds of readers of the legacy press. It echoes in the dreams of lanyard wearers in the Open Society Foundation or The Aspen Institute for Whatever Dumb Idea is Flavor of The Month, who dribble at the thought of chaperoning them to a power brunch.
The name…is Clinton.
This week the beleaguered, embattled and still quite handsome island kingdom of Britain was given a shot of the Clintons in its bruised arm. Apparently having nothing better to do, Chelsea and Hillary guest edited the women’s magazine Stylist.
Void of elegant writing, composed mainly of advertorial garbage, and bloated with tearful defenses of whatever silly controversy Serena Williams is involved in that week, Stylist — which is given out on public transport for free in London — is a good indication of the current state of things in Clintonia.
Mother and daughter are interviewed à deux, of course. They arrive ‘without fanfare’ after their Secret Service detail sweeps the room for bugs and alt-right bloggers.
The reporter finds Hillary ‘smart, funny and empowering’; Chelsea is ‘engaged and smart’ but also ‘warm and relaxed’. Everyone in the studio is ‘emotional’. One of the photographer’s assistants wants to cry.
Chelsea and Hillary recommend some books. (I was personally surprised by Chelsea’s selection of Julius Evola’s Revolt Against the Modern World as ‘a playful ode to the power of activism, as relevant today as when it was first written.’)
Then they’re down to business: selling their own book about women. ‘Everybody knows women they think of as gutsy,’ says Hillary. ‘Your mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, daughter, neighbor, friend. We want people to feel like they can be gutsy, too.’
So this book is for your mom, your grandmother, your aunt and your sister, your neighbor, that woman down the street who jogs, the woman you once saw eating a taco on a park bench, women who own books, women who deleted their Instagram accounts, women who watch television sometimes, women who have children, women who sometimes don’t get a haircut as soon as they should.
Women, this book is for you.
Somewhere in the PR for this interview, Chelsea is described in a noodly string of non-words as an ‘author, global health advocate, public speaker and philanthropist.’
Chelsea studied at Stanford, where like an End of History Rapunzel she was hidden away inside a bulletproof dorm room. Further paid-for baubles from Oxford followed. She worked at McKinsey, then a hedge fund. A stint as a broadcast journalist at NBC coughed up the notorious headline: ‘Chelsea Clinton at NBC: When Nepotism Goes Wrong’.
Unable to find gainful employment, unable to speak without having each word mainlined through a focus group, Chelsea today cribs from dead women’s Wikipedia pages, wraps them in cover and asks us to call it a book.
Is it possible that everything Chelsea does feels inauthentic because the only authentically interesting experience she’s had — her ringside seat during Dad’s infamous sexploits — is the only one she cannot discuss candidly?
Even as Ma Clinton was telling Stylist about all those gutsy women, news was breaking that she’d done her best to help her friend Harvey Weinstein during 2017’s Bonfire of the Perverts.
Ah well. One wonders if Chelsea is at all surprised by that. Perhaps she should read Hazlitt (an un-gutsy man, unfortunately) who once warned that ‘the love of power, where this is the ruling passion, requires the sacrifice of principle at every turn, and is inconsistent even with the shadow of it.’