Chasing Chelsea: Our wedding bell blues

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 29, 2010; 9:02 AM

We weren't able to find out whether Saddam had WMD, we missed the signs of a Wall Street meltdown and we don't really have a clue how much health reform will cost.

But goshdarnit, we are going to ferret out the secret details of Chelsea Clinton's wedding!

So what if the former president's daughter, a decade after leaving the White House, wants her privacy? Tough luck, sweetie. You're getting hitched, and the public has a right to know. Besides, we've got newspapers to sell and TV programs to promote.

Does anyone else find this kinda creepy?

Chelsea Clinton is a public figure only in the sense that her father was president and her mother is secretary of state. She has never taken on a public role, with the exception of campaigning for her mom two years ago, and even then she avoided reporters like the plague.

Is there really a great American hunger to know about the nuptials? Or are media outlets just insisting on making her celebrity royalty, given that Lindsay is indisposed and Paris always seems to be busy getting busted for pot?

Perhaps we're so accustomed to weddings of the rich and famous being photographed for People and Us that we somehow resent Chelsea for spoiling our fun.

Thus, the New York Times "RHINEBECK, N.Y. -- This small town in the Hudson Valley is thrilled that the wedding of the year will be happening here on Saturday. Thrilled -- even though no one can talk about it."

And, um, the New York Times again:

"So, just what does it take to score an invitation to the hottest -- not to mention most secretive -- political wedding of the summer?

"More than a cross-country ride on a private jet, apparently. 'I'm good enough to borrow a plane from, but not good enough to be invited to the wedding?' complained one Clinton friend, who remembered the times he handed over his jet and his pilot to take Bill Clinton around the country but had not landed a coveted invitation to Chelsea Clinton's nuptials."

Poor baby.

USA Today gives it the front-page treatment:

"Chelsea Clinton is getting married this weekend -- not that she thinks that's any of your business.

"One of the most media-phobic children to live in the White House in years, Chelsea, now 30, will marry her longtime boyfriend -- investment banker Marc Mezvinsky, 32, the son of two former Democratic members of Congress -- Saturday at an old, recently restored Astor family palace in the quaintly antique town of Rhinebeck, N.Y.


"That's all we know (sort of) so far, and all we may ever know if Chelsea gets her way."

Well, don't give up. There's always WikiLeaks.

At the Daily Beast, Samuel Jacobs has questions:

"With mere days to go until Chelsea Clinton, Bill and Hillary's 30-year-old daughter, ties the knot with hedge funder Marc Mezvinsky, the press has more questions than answers: What will the dress look like? Who will attend? Is it really all going down next door to Annie Leibovitz?

"But there's one question which looks beyond the frenzy, over the nuptials, past the honeymoon, and into the broad American horizon: Will Chelsea Victoria Clinton keep her name? . . . The considerations must be tense. For a woman who has made a point of avoiding the limelight, would Chelsea Mezvinsky be a more comfortable handle?"

And -- pant -- WWD has a sighting:

"With her major-league wedding just days away, Chelsea Clinton was spotted paying a visit to Vera Wang Tuesday afternoon -- despite a blatant attempt to go incognito.

"Wearing a gigantic, floppy straw hat, a ruffled blouse, slate blue linen shorts and a coordinating jacket, the former first daughter and an unidentified friend were whisked upstairs to the designer's showroom by an awaiting staffer."

No big piece from The Washington Post yet -- but my sources say just wait.

Dividing America?

Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen are Democratic pollsters but hardly party cheerleaders. Schoen, who worked for Bill Clinton, is a Fox News contributor; Caddell, who worked for Jimmy Carter, is a former Fox contributor who supported Ralph Nader in 2000. They have now taken to the pages of the Wall Street Journal with this indictment of the president:

"Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf.

"We have seen the divisive approach under Republican presidents as well -- particularly the administrations of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now. By dividing America, Mr. Obama has brought our government to the brink of a crisis of legitimacy, compromising our ability to address our most important policy issues. . . .

"He has not used his bully pulpit to emphasize the importance of racial unity and the common interest of poor whites and blacks who need training, job opportunities, and the possibility of realizing the American Dream. . . .

"Mr. Obama has also cynically divided the country on class lines. He has taken to playing the populist card time and time again. He bashes Wall Street and insurance companies whenever convenient to advance his programs, yet he has been eager to accept campaign contributions and negotiate with these very same banks and corporations behind closed doors in order to advance his political agenda."

Oh, and there's this toward the end: "Meanwhile, the Republican leadership has failed to put forth an agenda that is more positive, unifying or inclusive."

The piece may make a couple of decent points, but it seems like a collection of conservative talking points: He's too mean to business? Is the New Black Panther Party flap, in which the White House had no involvement, really worthy of inclusion?

Time's Joe Klein responds from the left:

"The argument is that Barack Obama is divisive. One reason he is divisive, they say, is that he supports immigration reform. George W. Bush supported immigration reform. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has supported immigration reform. Plenty of enlightened Republicans do--for moral reasons and, in the case of the Journal, for valid economic reasons. But Obama supports it--they aver, with zero evidence--solely for political reasons. He wants to gin up the Latino vote. One wonders--and I know I'm going out on a real limb here--if it is possible that the President supports immigration reform because it is the right thing to do. Caddell and Schoen don't even mention the possibility.

"Then they claim that the president has played the class warfare card by calling out the wealthy--like the bankers who raped the economy and British Petroleum, which pillaged the Gulf. Actually, I'd say the president has underplayed the depredations of the oligarchs (who probably represent some of Caddell and Schoen's corporate clients). . . .

"Indeed, the idea of Obama as populist bomb-thrower seems entirely at variance with the reality of the man. . . . as does the idea of Obama as crypto-racist, as does the idea of Obama as overly political (to the dismay of many, if not most, Democrats)."

Commentary's Jennifer Rubin responds from the right:

"Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen, two Democratic pollsters and consultants, repeatedly have tried to warn their fellow Democrats that they are blowing it -- going too far left, passing legislation disliked by the public, and ignoring the issues voters care about most. . . .

"It's not just racial antagonisms that Obama has exacerbated. As Caddell and Schoen observe, no president in recent memory has played the class-warfare card and maligned private industry as much as Obama. ('He bashes Wall Street and insurance companies whenever convenient to advance his programs, yet he has been eager to accept campaign contributions and negotiate with these very same banks and corporations behind closed doors in order to advance his political agenda.')

"But it is on partisanship that Obama has really excelled. The sneering disrespect for political opponents, the refusal to engage in any genuine give-and-take with the GOP, and his obnoxious vilification of his predecessor have distinguished this White House as the most politically vindictive and obsessive (going even so far as to put political hacks in the center of foreign policy formulation) since Richard Nixon's."

Nixon had his enemies wiretapped, audited and burglarized; I think he retires the trophy for political obsessiveness.

On partisan hatred

Radio host Dennis Prager rips what he sees as the liberal mindset:

"The Left thinks the Right is evil. Granting the exceptions that all generalizations allow for, conservatives believe that those on the left are wrong, while those on the left believe that those on the right are bad. Examples are innumerable. Howard Dean, the former head of the Democratic party, said, 'In contradistinction to the Republicans, Democrats don't believe kids ought to go to bed hungry at night.' Rep. Alan Grayson (D., Fla.), among many similar comments, said, 'I want to say a few words about what it means to be a Democrat. It's very simple: We have a conscience.'

"Has any spokesman of the Republican party ever said anything analogous about Democrats' not caring about the suffering of children or not having a conscience?"

The New Republic's Jonathan Chait has an opposing theory:

"Hmm. This is hard to prove either way and Prager makes no real attempt to justify it. . . .

"A recent Pew survey found that Republicans think Democrats are far more extreme than vice versa. In other words, both Republicans and Democrats have a similar view as to how far right the Republican Party is. But while Democrats think the Democratic Party is just a bit left of center, Republicans think it's way, way left of center. . . .

"So why are Republicans so much more convinced of Democratic radicalism than vice versa? Paul Waldman notes that this probably results from the fact that Democrats tend to get their news from sources that strive for balance -- sources that portray the political debate as revolving around two essentially parallel parties. Republicans, on the other hand, increasingly get their news from sources mostly or totally unconstrained by traditional journalistic standards and which portray Democrats in hysterical, apocalyptic terms."

Chuck's lament

Athough conservatives have taken most of the shots at the liberal members of Journolist, some MSMers are uneasy with the now-defunct e-mail group as well. As we see in this column by Roger Simon :

"Chuck Todd, political director and chief White House correspondent for NBC News, who was not part of Journolist, told me this:

" 'I am sure Ezra [Klein] had good intentions when he created it, but I am offended the right is using this as a sledgehammer against those of us who don't practice activist journalism.

" 'Journolist was pretty offensive. Those of us who are mainstream journalists got mixed in with journalists with an agenda. Those folks who thought they were improving journalism are destroying the credibility of journalism. This has kept me up nights. I try to be fair. It's very depressing.'

"I know how he feels. Klein appears to be a very honorable guy, but I think he created a Frankenstein monster without meaning to do so."

WP's Greg Sargent follows up with Todd:

"He clarified that his primary concern is that the right is successfully using this to carry out its larger program of tarring the mainstream press as liberal. . . . 'A minority of folks created a perception problem for the list. And there's clearly a campaign by some conservatives to use this.' . . .The problem, Todd added, is that J-List created a 'perception that the right's claim of a so-called liberal media conspiracy is true, which is not the case.' "

One victim of Journolist -- Dave Weigel lost his Washington Post blogging job after the Daily Caller published his incendiary messages -- has found a new online job. He is joining Slate, which is, um, owned by The Washington Post Co.

What did he wear?

I'm sure this wouldn't affect the magazine's coverage, but Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour was to be hosting President Obama for a Democratic fundraising dinner at her Manhattan home Wednesday night.

Will Michelle, who graced the cover last year and got an incredible puff piece (by "passionate supporter" Andre Leon Talley), be posing again for Vogue soon?

Howard Kurtz also works for CNN and hosts its weekly media program, 'Reliable Sources.'

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company