The protracted and bedraggled decline in American public argumentation continues at a breathtaking pace. We are fast approaching a time in which emotion may completely displace reason in the sphere of politics.
Chelsea Clinton’s rebuke of Butler University student Evan Strange aptly illustrates this phenomenon and serves as prelude. The student, who happens to be a Hillary supporter, asked Chelsea whether “the criticism of her mother that how she handled the Lewinsky scandal might be a sign of weakness and she might not be a strong enough candidate to be president.”
Assuredly, at least upon initial inspection, his question strikes listeners as being provocative. No doubt the young Democrat wondered if Senator Clinton would ever repent her delusional attacks of yesteryear regarding the political right.
Just before DNA testing proved that her husband’s sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky did transpire, Hillary dismissed the allegations as being the work of “a vast right-wing conspiracy” and a “part of a continuing political campaign against [her] husband.” She morphed a manifestation of Mr. Clinton’s characterological deficits into an ideological battle in which conservatives sought “to undo the results of two elections.”
Apologizing would be the right thing to do. Hillary was most assertive in 1998 and rather than intuit that Bill’s past performance was the best indicator of his future behavior, Hillary reflexively accepted the former president’s vow that no post-modernist liaison “with that woman” had occurred.
With both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton spending countless hours proclaiming to the electorate that a uniter must serve as our 44th president, it is unsettling that Hillary should continue to refuse to atone for the inappropriate and divisive remarks she made. In lieu of this Living History, the relevance of Mr. Strange’s query becomes evident. Contrarily, Chelsea’s response was imperious. It elucidated that her mother’s mold was not broken following her birth in 1947. Specifically, she appeared flustered but said, “Wow, you’re the first person actually that’s ever asked me that question in the, I don’t know maybe, 70 college campuses I’ve now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business.”
The audience responded favorably, but, regardless, Mr. Strange managed to impress. He refused to back down from his words and defended himself admirably. The young man pointed out that Chelsea was stumping for her mother, which meant that no question was off-limits. Further, he stressed that the incident is still something that voters would like to see clarified. Apparently, not everyone has move[d]on.org in the years since.
Personally, I found the episode significant and alarming for two reasons. First, it again revealed the ubiquitous sense of entitlement endemic to all Clintons; second, it displayed the transcendence of emotion over reason in our public square.
It is appalling that Mrs. Clinton, one of the most privileged persons in America, deems honor and responsibility as traits that are below her station. That her daughter views the false allegations she made before a national audience as a private matter underwhelms yet further.
This eventuality should not surprise us, however. Unlike the average politician, Hillary practically got willed the 2000 Democratic nomination for senator of a state in which she had never dwelled. The beatified position in which she found herself was solely reflective of her husband’s connections, and was not contingent upon previous achievement.
Indeed, even Barack Obama, no stranger to accolades and mass devotion, had to launch his heralded career from the low-rent chambers of the Illinois General Assembly. Conversely, for Hillary, no barrier was too steep for her friends to help her surmount.
Regardless of her anointed status, Hillary’s skin remains as wispy today as it was when she resided in the White House. Her minions systematically object to the treatment she receives from the press even when it is issued by leftist allies like Chris Matthews or David Shuster. They have enunciated the argument for the media to masticate over: that her possible rejection by male voters is a product of their own sexism.
Political correctness makes this plausible as we are but pawns to be moved about on a theoretical oppression chessboard. In previous eras, candidates had to reflect on their own inadequacies when their dreams went unfilled, but now they can sooth their threatened pride by pondering the inadequacies of their racist, sexist constituents.
Senator Clinton and her posse are constructs of our age and have purposefully equated criticism with hate speech. This is spurious as no politician has the right to be free from criticism. Were this to be the case then the First Amendment would have no more dominion here than in North Korea.
More realistic parties comprehend that a desire to affix oneself to the dole and promote the needs of your own inner-Napoleon will not always be met with therapeutic affirmation by the masses. Chelsea does not appear to have yet comprehended this fact.
She should acknowledge that her outreach to the general population is an attempt to secure more voters for Team Hillary and not an endeavor in which she should expect to be showered with love.
In this role, Chelsea functions as an agent of her mother’s campaign. Thus, while personal questions about Clinton the Younger may well be none of our business, inquiries relating to the family’s matriarch are most appropriate.
Moreover, her riposte to Mr. Strange was irrational. Not only was her non-answer inexplicable. Its lead-in suggested a belief in a hitherto unknown logical fallacy that might be termed an “appeal to conformity.”
Chelsea held the college student to be wrong because he dared to ask a question she had never heard before. The fellow was “the first person actually that’s ever asked [her] that question in the, I don’t know maybe, 70 college campuses” she visited, which means … nothing. She is making but an appeal to conformity. If no one else has ever contemplated something then it must be wrong. The crowd knows what is best.
Obviously, one’s never hearing a contention has zero correlation with its underlying validity. One’s ignorance can often be attributed to, well, one’s ignorance. This writer has never been asked about the nature of the troposphere, but that would not render as unsound such an inquiry. Uniqueness does not predict relevance.
In Indiana that day, Chelsea exuded her parent’s spirit of entitlement. Her recent forays into politics have exposed her to ridicule, but the trials seem to have only managed to heighten her emotional reactivity.
As a conspicuous voice of the millennial generation, Chelsea needs to learn that placing oneself in the line of fire often results in becoming a magnet for shrapnel. Making enemies and fostering resentment is an unintended — but predictable — byproduct of seeking power, authority, and status. This is true irrespective of one’s sex, race, or creed.
Bill Clinton informed voters in West Virginia that “[i]f a politician doesn’t wanna get beat up, he shouldn’t run for office. If a football player doesn’t want to get tackled or want the risk of an occasional clip he shouldn’t put the pads on.”
The former president’s advice was meant for Barack Obama, but it better applies to his own wife. Her tradition of excoriating critics over slights has been as pervasive as his creative scoring on the golf course.
Hopefully, Chelsea will go her own way after 2008 and show deference to the rules of logic. I’d like to assist in her growth by offering up some counsel here. A mock poster that I treasure provides much-needed guidance: “Always remember that you are unique. Just like everybody else.” This should console her during future university appearances if the crowds are sparse or her listeners fail to emote in an Oprah-esque fashion.