With everything happening in politics—the increasing global might of Russia, Marine Le Pen's advancement to the French Presidential runoff, the test run results of special American congressional elections, the saga of the Democratic party at large, and the fact that, well, you know, Donald Trump continues to be president—it remains a mystery as to why anyone would find time to be greatly worried about what Chelsea Clinton is up to.
And yet, national political reporters of influence continue to concern themselves, with almost embarrassing fervor, with speculative fan fiction about what the former first daughter's future may include.
Though, there has never been any serious reports or indications that the 37-year-old Clinton has any aspirations to someday run for office herself. Even the looniest right-wing Clinton conspiracy theorist haven't come to the conclusion that Bill and Hillary groomed their only offspring to someday become supreme leader of the New World Order. Still, Clinton has had to make a regular habit out of clarifying that she's not planning any sort of campaign.
Indeed, Clinton took to Twitter yesterday to make light of the fact that she's had to deny any personal interest in electoral politics so often.
Somehow, quite a few prominent national political reports (albeit ones of the seriously Twitter-addicted variety) didn't get the joke, and decided to push Clinton to deny even further that she won't run for office. Apparently, her choice of verb tense wasn't enough for them, and each dug in when challenged about it.
Here's Ben Jacobs, a political reporter for The Guardian:
And CNN's Chris Cillizza:
And the Wall Street Journal's Byron Tau:
And the Washington Post's Aaron Blake:
Any idea that Clinton has plans to run are thin. A story that she may run for a congressional seat in New York's suburban 17th district was floated by the tabloid-y New York Post (a News Corp-owned corporate cousin of Fox News) last year. This, despite the fact that the district's current Democratic congresswoman, Nita Lowey, has given no indication she'll retire, and that Clinton herself doesn't actually even live in the district and has shown no signs she's preparing to move. Clinton also recently appeared on the cover of Variety and has a book tour planned, which is apparently relevant.
Let's talk about how silly this speculation is.
1. If anything, Chelsea Clinton's Variety cover reinforces that she has no real intention of running.
Part of the speculation centers on the theory that Clinton's recent appearance on the cover of Variety (to be specific, she was one of six covers of a "Woman in Power" issue) indicates she's trying to establish a public profile of her own. Except, anyone with even a half serious reading of the populist and anti-elitist mood of voters all over the political spectrum at the moment would not even dream of appearing on the cover of Variety, a showbiz industry trade magazine, as a way to pivot into a campaign of any sort at this particular moment. Someone who might be interested in raising their profile in advance of a book tour might be, however.
2. Yes, politicians do deny they're running for office all the time, only to turn around and run.
The reporters are correct this is a common thing. Yet, traditionally the press's hesitation to accept particular politicians' statements as the final word is fueled, at least in part, by legitimate insider chatter. Yet, there doesn't seem to even be any serious off-the-record sourcing from anywhere in the Democratic firmament or N.Y. District 17 that Clinton is preparing for a run there or elsewhere. If there is, maybe these reporters could concentrate on sniffing out that story, instead of sleuth the linguistics of Clinton's Tweets.
Really, these reporters might also have more ground to stand on if they seemed more concerned with hounding other political scions about their political futures. You've got Governor Andrew Coumo (son of Mario) up in Albany, who very much seems like he's laying the groundwork for a 2020 Presidential run. George P. Bush (nephew of W. and son of Jeb) holds a state-wide elected office in Texas and certainly seems like he has big plans for the future. There are still two Kennedys who hold elected office in this country right now (and, hey, what's Caroline been up to since she left Japan anyway?). Mitt Romney's niece is the current chair of the Republican National Committee, and you have to figure that one of those Romney boys is going to run for something someday, too. Where are their strongly-worded Twitter denials with the proper verb tense?
Of course, this Chelsea-obsession all underlies the media's actual, very weird relationship with the Clintons. While some think that the mainstream media is always "in the tank" for the Clinton family, the reality is that much of the media has a weird, dysfunctional obsession with the power couple that they just can't seem to give up—which now apparently extends to their daughter.
Interest in Clinton's future also dovetails into the future of the Democratic party. At least for those who incorrectly view it as a personality-driven soap opera of warring factions and a never-ending continuation of the long-since-decided 2016 Democratic primary in which there can only be one victor. There are those that seem to think the only path forward for the Democrats is to purge all remnants of "Clintonism" from the party (as if that was even possible), and of course are driven mad by the idea the younger Clinton someday running for office.
This means that Chelsea Clinton speculation make for very good idle Twitter chatter designed to stir up attention and emotion, sure, but has very little to do with any sort of political storyline with any hint of being based in reality.
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