Chelsea Clinton Comes Of Age

"I think that is something that is personal to my family, I’m sure there are things that are personal to your family that you don’t think are anyone else’s business, either. But also on a larger point, I don’t think you should vote for or against my mother because of my father."  — Chelsea Clinton, asked about “The Intern” at North Carolina State University in Raleigh

She should have expected it and I am sure she was briefed on it. There is no way that Clinton, Inc. sent former first daughter Chelsea Clinton out unprepared to perpetuate the victim status of her mother by righteous indignation over being asked about “The Intern,” Monica Lewinsky. The generation that grew up hearing the salacious details of President Bill Clinton and The Intern want to know how Chelsea felt about it. 

And, above all, it’s a fair question today because Chelsea Clinton is no longer a child. She’s 28 years old and now a familiar figure on the campaign trail. She’s a surrogate speaker for her mother’s campaign. And as such, she is no longer entitled to the immunity from scrutiny that the press provides presidential children. The moment she became a surrogate speaker, she gave up the right to claim it.

Chelsea Clinton is a well-educated adult woman but her parents still send out cease and desist letters to keep people from picking on her. If she’s old enough to campaign for her mother, she’s old enough to be questioned about her father and The Intern.

I am the mother of children raised in the Clinton era and I take his behavior and the handling of it very seriously. In the late 1990s, my sons came home one day laughing and talking about “pulling a Willie J.” When questioned, my Eagle Scout son told me it meant lying and getting away with it like President Clinton. I don’t think this phrase was widespread, but the sentiment was. These first-time voters don’t believe in boundaries. Some express it in working for candidates like Ron Paul or Barack Obama, some express it in the no holds barred “if it’s funny, it’s okay” culture and some by putting the candidates lives on YouTube — every embarrassing moment.

While I can understand Ms. Clinton’s discomfort in talking about this, she can’t shy away from the topic if she is going to be a surrogate for her mother. We do get a glimpse into how she feels when she says, “I don’t think you should vote for or against my mother because of my father.” If I were to analyze, I’d say there is still some anger there. She wouldn’t be asked these questions if her father and mother had handled this situation in a classier way. Everyone makes mistakes, and I mean everyone, but it’s how you handle it that shows integrity and humility, characteristics that are lacking at Clinton, Inc.

I can’t forget how the Clintons used Chelsea as a photo op when then President Clinton was admitting his wrongdoing and when he was impeached. They didn’t protect her privacy then. They used her to soften his image and to protect him. If they cared so much about her privacy, they wouldn’t have allowed her to be photographed hand in hand with them walking to Marine One on the day Bill talked to the nation — almost but not quite truthfully — about is entanglement with Monica Lewinsky.

Being somewhat in the public eye with children in their teens and twenties, I know the things I say and do reflect on them as what they do reflects on my husband and me. It cannot be turned on and off. My children know sometimes when someone says, “Is Martha Zoller your mother,” they may not follow up with something nice to say.

The Clintons cannot show selective indignation when David Shuster of MSNBC said Chelsea was being “pimped out” by her parents in this campaign but continue to use her when they deem it necessary for a photo op or to handle a younger crowd. However, you can be sure they will because it works. When Hillary Clinton becomes a victim, even though it’s through her daughter, her numbers go up and that’s why they do it. 

So Chelsea, be ready for any question. Your parents have a long public record and all of it is fair game if you are going to speak for them on the campaign trail. And get ready to rumble at the Democrat Convention in August. Clinton, Inc. will need all hands on deck for that fight to the finish.