What Is The Purpose Of The Chelsea Clinton Takedown?

It’s only at the end of Kyle Smith’s National Review takedown of Chelsea Clinton that we arrive at the inevitable where women are concerned, this one especially:

“All clenched eyes, big teeth, and stiff arms, she looks not like a person captured in a moment of levity but like someone who is trying very hard to look strong, confident, and fun.”

That’s the first and only reference to Chelsea’s looks, that is, if you don’t count Roman Genn’s caricature illustrating the piece. It depicts Chelsea as Marie Antoinette, but with teeth akin to those Genn had given Lena Dunham, the time (well, one of the times) that publication reminded that Dunham, too, comes from privilege.*

It’s unclear to me what the point of “Her Chelseaness: How To Be Entitled And Boring Without Really Trying,” appearing, as it did, on May 8th, could possibly have been. On April 21st, Vanity Fair published T.A. Frank’s screed, “Please, God, Stop Chelsea Clinton From Whatever She Is Doing,” which made the same not particularly urgent point – Chelsea Clinton, not the world’s most fascinating person – in somewhat wittier terms. I have seen Chelsea’s CV textually narrated to the tune of left-snark, right-snark-, and centrist-snark more times than I can count. Why is another installment needed? What does this add?

The only meaningful differences is that Frank is ostensibly concerned that Chelsea’s presence is “a public hazard” for the left, whereas Smith, given the venue, is criticizing the Dems from the right. Again I ask: Why?

Let us be clear on what the Chelsea worst-case scenario appears to be. It’s not that Hillary would run again, which even Smith doesn’t see as in the cards. Best as I can tell, the fear – the great, overriding, urgent fear necessitating all these Chelsea takedowns – that a political lightweight might become center-left leader of the country, based solely on connections and name recognition.

Look north, my fellow Americans. Such things can happen, and are not necessarily disasters.

*That’s always how it goes, though, is it not? Women who benefit from nepotism, but who commit the great sin that is being pleasant-looking as versus supermodel-esque, get hoisted up as representing capital-P Privilege. This is always the subtext, and, not infrequently, the text. Meanwhile men of all prettiness levels get to benefit, discreetly and otherwise, from unearned advantages as applicable.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy edits the Sisterhood, and can be reached at bovy@forward.com. She is the author of “The Perils Of ‘Privilege’”, from St. Martin’s Press. Follow her on Twitter, @tweetertation

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What Is The Purpose Of The Chelsea Clinton Takedown?

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