OFF THE GRID

Honk if You Just Can’t Get Enough of Chelsea and Marc

Jul 29, 10 | 7:52 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Presidential children’s weddings are, in modern history, terrifically ho-hum affairs. Sometimes the presidents in question seem to seek attention for their daughters (never particularly for their sons), but it is seldom given. The Nixon daughters' weddings were particular examples of their father trying to muster some reverence and awe and getting a lot of rude jokes instead. Harry Truman couldn’t get much respect for his daughter Margaret. The Johnsons fell flat with Lucy and Linda. Amy Carter, if memory serves, got married uneventfully. The Bush twin wedding hardly caused a ripple. Caroline Kennedy summoned a bit more interest—but then Jackie was her mother.

So what’s with the tizzy over Chelsea? This isn’t even an in-office wedding and it’s a news blowout.

Surely, it’s not her personality. Chelsea Clinton seems as beside the point as any presidential child has been—a specific Clinton White House accomplishment, in one sense. She’s curiously generic—her hick Arkansas father and hick Methodist mother produced a cookie-cutter urban sophisticate. Admirably, perhaps, she’s kept her mouth shut (she really seems strikingly to have nothing to say). A management consult-investment banker type, she’s achieved perfect yuppie blandness. (This may be the first celebrity wedding of a management consultant-investment banker type.)

Nor is it likely that the fuss is because her mother might be expected to throw a wedding that will be a model of fantasy and splendor. Despite the reports of millions being spent, the choice of Rhinebeck, a low-rent Hudson River town—now festooned with homemade wedding banners and bumper stickers—probably indicates a clunky, more granola than royal, affair (as well as a wedding on the cheap—no way you can spend serious dough in Rhinebeck).

And yet here we are: a major front-page nuptial.

OK, continuing fascination with one of the most public family dynamics in the history of public family dynamics, is part of it. Still, what’s new to learn? Perhaps a wedding such as this represents the triumph of dysfunctionalism—the new norm.

But, obviously, the motor here is politics.

The Clintons, forever being dissed, dismissed, and declared kaput, stubbornly, intractably, remain at the heart of the Democratic Party. It’s an entire liberal political establishment yet wanting to be friends of Bill’s and Hillary’s. It’s the Clinton media machine (even as a shadow of itself) working overtime. It’s Camelot in Rhinebeck (yet again, the Clintons are renting homes). Meaning: Barack Obama is nothing but an upstart and interloper.

Likely, too, the Democrats are feeling very bad about themselves. They see the wilderness—precisely where the Clintons have been living for sometime now. Bill is the president of this realm.

It’s buyer’s remorse, a sense that will grow stronger as the next election approaches. Hillary is the do-over and if-only choice. That’s the wedding dynamic: This is the official celebration of the once and future Clintons.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
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