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machine politics
Why the Clintons Won’t Go Away

In Vanity Fair, T.A. Frank exhorts elite American liberals in the strongest possible terms to resist their obvious temptation to turn Chelsea Clinton into a political item:

Amid investigations into Russian election interference, perhaps we ought to consider whether the Kremlin, to hurt Democrats, helped put Chelsea Clinton on the cover of Variety. Or maybe superstition explains it. Like tribesmen laying out a sacrifice to placate King Kong, news outlets continue to make offerings to the Clinton gods. In The New York Times alone, Chelsea has starred in multiple features over the past few months: for her tweeting (it’s become “feisty”), for her upcoming book (to be titled She Persisted), and her reading habits (she says she has an “embarrassingly large” collection of books on her Kindle). With Chelsea’s 2015 book, It’s Your World, now out in paperback, the puff pieces in other outlets—Elle, People, etc.—are too numerous to count.

Read Frank’s piece for a thorough accounting of why continuing to indulge Chelsea Clinton’s escalating bids for publicity would be a catastrophic mistake. But there’s a more fundamental question it doesn’t answer: Why is this happening? What is the constituency for a Chelsea Clinton political career? What is the apparently unstoppable force of nature thrusting her onto magazine covers and broadcasting her progressive-word-generator Twitter proclamations?

The answer is that even though Hillary Clinton lost two elections, the Clinton machine—the one the family has been building ever since Bill left office in 2001—is still very much in place. Walter Russell Mead described it like this during the 2016 primaries: “The machine gathers the cash that provides perches and incomes to Clinton loyalists; the loyalists keep the publicity machine pumping, keep the networks of contacts and patronage refreshed throughout the vast Clinton network, and staff what amounts to a permanent campaign. This is what party machines used to do: provide incomes for the army of operatives who would jump into action to make sure the machine stayed in office.”

The loyalists who make up this apparatus want—or even need—for the gears to keep spinning. And for that, the machine needs to offer the promise of future influence. Otherwise, donations to the Clinton Foundation would dry up; speaking engagements would become less lucrative; Clinton-backed spin organizations would wither; and dozens of jobs would disappear. All this is to say that the strange persistence of Chelsea boosterism does not come out of nowhere; it is the product of a supremely well-organized political organization revving its engines. And it will not be shut down voluntarily.

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  • Isaiah601

    I’m personally super excited about Chelsea. Picture this….
    Chelsea Clinton / Chelsea Manning 2020! Because f#ck you that’s why!!
    Short, sweet, fits onto the bumper sticker. Let’s do it!!

    • f1b0nacc1

      Personally my favored Democratic ticket for 2020 is Warren/Waters….how low can you go?

      • Angel Martin

        Zuckerberg/Clinton is my bet.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Perhaps, but I wonder about Zuckerberg. I know a few people who know him (I have never had the opportunity, and to be honest, I don’t regret that…), and they describe him as a lightweight with very little taste for combative engagement. Whatever you might say about Trump, he seems to enjoy messing with people’s heads as part of political hand-to-hand combat. Zuckerberg has been described to me as someone who simply enjoys having his word unquestioned.

          He is young though, one never knows what the future will bring….

          • Angel Martin

            In January, Zuckerberg pledged to journey to all 50 states in 2017 to “talk to more people about how they’re living, working and thinking about the future,” according to news sources.

            “It’s a part of his year of travel that he’s given himself,” Vandiver said. “He wants to spend a little time in each state that he hasn’t been to before.”

            Read more here:

          • f1b0nacc1

            He has the wealth to travel, and every minute he spends away from Facebook is good for the stockholders (grin)….

            I have little doubt that Zuckerberg sees himself as a ‘great leader’ in the making, but as many celebrities discover, there is a big difference between ruling and running…

          • ——————————

            “Messing with peoples heads” is fun….

          • Jim__L

            “Someone who simply enjoys having this word unquestioned” — Wow. That’s a really good description of Silicon Valley’s outlook on politics.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Thank you, I wish that it wasn’t true….sigh…

  • Unelected Leader

    It’s less about the Clintons, and more about the Clinton model which was successful in the past. The Clintons and the Democratic Party know that the country is center-right. They don’t win national elections when they go hard left.
    The problem is, Clinton’s so called triangulation approach had a limited shelf life. When given the choice between Republicans and Republican-lite the GOP tends to win. Add to that not having a leader to congeal behind, and not really much of a coherent message spells disaster.

    • Tom

      (Nods) Bill Clinton mostly won because the country tends not to be enamored of one party holding the presidency for an extended period of time (that, and Pat Buchanan deciding to primary HW Bush. Yeah, good thinking, Patrick. Worthy of the last presidential candidate to bear your last name). (Yes, there are exceptions to this rule–the GOP in the post-Civil War era and the Democrats following the Depression–but these were largely due to one party being seen as causing a disaster).
      Also, Democrats tend to run on charm and charisma, and aside from hardcore feminist progressives, everyone thinks Hillary Clinton is as charming and charismatic as a personal injury lawyer.

  • Eurydice

    Perhaps it’s because I live in Warren country, but I don’t know anyone who’s even thinking about Chelsea Clinton.

    • Ellen

      Yes, and I bet you don’t know anyone who is even thinking about anything at all except how much they hate Trump. Boston liberals are the most intolerable of all.

      • Eurydice

        For the most part, this is so true. It’s TDS 24/7 here – people frothing at the mouth and saying all sorts of privileged, 1%er things that would be considered intolerable from a Republican. But there are a few timid souls who cower in corners and try to talk rationally about politics – some of them are even Democrats. And they’re still not talking about Chelsea Clinton.

    • Proud Skeptic

      Sounds like a nice place.

  • D4x

    American media does not know, or care, to stop the spin cycle. However, Chelsea on the cover of Variety is part of the cultureWar against the Trump family, especially FLOTUS Melania and FDOTUS Ivanka. Variety is owned by Penske Media Corp, which also owns WWD, and Footwear News. Since March 2017, after Melania’s poll number jumped to 52%, WWD went suddenly silent, and the once-exuberant Footwear News went snark-ish. (Ok, the exuberance over footwear was an interesting excursion into the world of stiletto-worship, but it was nice to read anything positive about Trumps.)

    The silence from WWD is a sign that the cultureWar is real. More interesting is that FLOTUS’ Senior Advisor, Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff, has been recovering from serious spine surgery since early March, but even an exclusive from NYPost Page Six got zero echo:

    Imagine if any of POTUS’ Senior advisors had disappeared for weeks due to spine surgery – the echo would have been everywhere.

    Penske Media Corp had been a key client for SW-W. In her absence, this culture War had their opening: Chelsea-boosterism, because, well, at least she has a waistline, and good hair. And, Vanity Fair went in for the kill: Melania and Ivanka. Tom Franks pretends to be normal – the rest of VF is pure TDS, extra venom in April, 2017.

    I doubt the Clinton Machine did more than cheerlead.

  • f1b0nacc1

    Most political machines have similar business models, they collect tax revenues, then skim some off to pay off their loyalists. The Clintons found a new innovation….they pay off the loyalists with campaign donations! They found an even newer idea once Bill left office…they pay off their loyalists with CGI donations and other forms of graft. Very clever actually….

    However….the problem with any influence peddling operation is that you have to have influence to peddle, and the Clintons now have none, nor do they have much hope of getting any in the near future. This makes it essential to talk up Chelsea, otherwise it will become apparent all too soon that neither the emperor nor the empress has any clothing. (ugh…after that mental image I need some brain bleach!) I wonder now what Obama’s next move will be? He doesn’t seem to have the insatiable greed of the Clintons (though Michelle does seem to have a strong taste for the good life), but his narcissism does tend to create a similar hunger for the spotlight….

  • ScienceABC123

    Narcissists with a “love for money” never go away.

  • FriendlyGoat

    The most likely reason Chelsea Clinton is on magazine covers would be the same as why Jennifer Aniston has had an outsized presence on them for a long time. If the magazines are not selling, they get someone else, no?

    • Jim__L

      I think it’s safe to say that Jennifer Aniston’s face will sell orders of magnitude more magazines than Chelsea Clinton’s.

      • D4x

        Variety could consider the Clintons as America’s longest running soap opera, but some of us know that Variety is not a supermarket tabloid.

  • The Deplorable EtoculusDei

    The Clinton’s are to politics what Herpes in to dating. You can’t get rid of them.

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