Chelsea Clinton Accepts She's A Celebrity, Decides To Use Fame For Good


When it was announced recently that Chelsea Clinton had take a job as a NBC News correspondant, there were some grumblings about nepotism involving the children of politicians. The new career is actually just the first part of her effort to embrace her fame. Fittingly, she’s making her debut in a way that only the daughter of two exceptionally popular politicians could: With a long, glowing profile in the New York Times.

The Clintons’ refusal to let the press dig into Chelsea created a dearth of stories about her growth spurts during her teen years. Of course, Chelsea became a celebrity anyway, but she’s in a unique position shared only by the likes of Kate Middleton and Jolie-Pitt children; Everyone knows who she is, but many people haven’t even heard her speak. Now that’s going to change, so if 20 years of being seen and unheard (with the exception of introducing her mom at a few campaign events) has whet your appetite for more Chelsea, you’re in luck.

The Times reports that recently Chelsea started telling friends she wanted to “stop pretending she was not Chelsea Clinton.” In the past year, the 31-year-old has been slowly easing her way into the spotlight. She’s taken a larger role at events her parents are involved in, joined the board of the internet company IAC/InterActiveCorp, and spoken at fundraisers for organizations including amfAR. Now with the NBC News gig, she’s moving into a job where the public will get to know her too. Clinton will do assignments for the network’s “Making A Difference” franchise, and will make her first appearance on Rock Center With Brian Williams on December 12.

Chelsea described her desire to live a more public life to the Times, and it’s almost jarring to see her speaking for herself (even though she’s actually being quoted from an email). “I hope to make a positive, productive contribution, as cheesy as that may sound,” she says. “For most of my life, I deliberately led a private life in the public eye.” The paper reports that her late grandmother also played a big role in her decision to change course:

After campaigning for her mother’s presidential bid in 2008, Ms. Clinton realized that she liked speaking publicly about issues she felt strongly about. Her grandmother, Dorothy Rodham, gave her some advice. “She told me being Chelsea Clinton had happened to me,” Ms. Clinton said, “and outside of my advocacy work and campaigning for my mom, I wasn’t doing enough in the world.”
Those conversations continued over the next couple of years – often coming up “when Marc and I were being hounded by the paparazzi for the silly reason du jour” – until Mrs. Rodham died in November. “I took what she said seriously – that I had led an inadvertently public life for a long time and maybe it was time to start leading a purposefully public life.”

Unlike some other politicians’ kids turned journalists, Clinton doesn’t seem to have a chip on her shoulder about the fact that she’s in the position she’s in mainly because of who her parents are. It seems she knows she’s smart and accomplished in her own right, and doesn’t feel the need to pretend she was hired solely for her journalism skills or hide that part of the interview process for NBC involved summoning Brian Williams to a meeting in an Italian restaurant that he described as “The Godfather without the gun hidden in the bathroom.”

Though her spokesman says she has no interest in running for office, it seems unlikely that Chelsea’s ultimate goal is to make a difference by becoming an anchor on the Today show. There’s been a Clinton in office for about two decades, but that could end if Hillary Clinton actually keeps her pledge to step down next year. While some aren’t thrilled about the idea of a political dynasty, there’s already speculation that Chelsea could run for a Congressional seat in New York. According to the Times assessment, it sounds like she’s the best of both of her parents:

In public, she has always seemed like her mother – dutiful and restrained, as if politics were the high price to pay for public service. In private, friends say, Ms. Clinton is much more Bill Clinton’s daughter – voluble and argumentative, warm with a biting sense of humor and a knack for remembering arcane facts.

We should probably wait until she decides to run for something, or at least does her first segment on Rock Center, before declaring our undying support for Chelsea. (Knowing where she stands on the issues, aside from her support for marriage equality, would probably be good too.) However, if she’s actually a more personable version of her mother and a less irresponsible version of her father, she certainly sounds like a dream candidate.

Chelsea Clinton, Living Up To The Family Name [NYT]

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