»  National Review Online

February 15, 2001

   Be Afraid

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[Note added later:  This is my infamous attempt to alert the nation to the lurking threat of Chelsea Clinton. It brought me more hostile e-mail than anything else I posted on NRO, mostly from people who assumed I was calling for the fair lady's assassination. For my refusal to apologize, see here. The only thing I have taken away from this silly flap is that there are far more humorless morons out there than I supposed. Though I also think it says something mildly alarming about the nation's political mentality that there are people who believe, in all earnestness, that (a) anyone would do such a thing, (b) anyone could do such a thing under the name of a respectable magazine without being fired, (c) anyone could do such a thing in any public forum at all without being pulled in for interrogation by the FBI. For the record: There was never any question of my being fired — my colleagues at National Review took the piece in the light spirit it was (obviously, it seems to me) intended to be taken, as did practically all my readers, until the piece was leaked out into the larger world of dimwitted lefties. And the FBI has, so far as I am aware, never paid any attention to me at all. Among the hostile e-mails, by the way, was the only communication of any kind that I have ever had inviting me to a duel. I accepted at once, naming pistols, and mentioning that I was a crack shot. I never heard back.]

A specter is haunting America — the specter of Clintonism. Yes, the man is gone, off to a lifetime of golfing at all-white clubs, biting his lip in the pulpits of black churches while the hallelujahs soar, goosing waitresses, slithering in and out of shady business deals, being collared by showbiz bores at Barbra Streisand's parties, and defending himself in court. And yes, his lady has no future beyond the U.S. Senate. The people of New York, trapped in their little Stalinist time-warp, still fretting about why that nice Mr Adlai Stevenson didn't get in in '52 (my explanation: WE NEED ADLAI BADLY! was the worst campaign slogan ever) will probably go on voting for her until, like Gagoola the hag in King Solomon's Mines, "She has lived so long that none can remember when she was not old, and always she it is who has trained the witch hunters, and made the land evil in the sight of the heavens above." But given her far-left paper trail and her amazing capacity to make people detest her where'er she treads, Hillary's maxed out.

Yet still the presence of that specter can be felt, an icy wind blowing to us from the unseeable future, disturbing our sleep, arresting us in the midst of our daily tasks, chilling and warning us. Bill and Hill are history, but Clintonism may yet rise again, like Glen Close from that bathtub. For, ladies and gentlemen, the tworch has been paaahssed to a noooh genewation of Clintons. On February 27, Chelsea Clinton will turn 21.

At this point I had better make a confession. It's a bad one, I know it. It is low, contemptible and — yes! — mean-spirited. It may very well place me beyond the pale of civilized society. I don't care. Truth will out, I will be heard. Brace yourself: I hate Chelsea Clinton.

I admit it's not easy to justify my loathing of this person. I can pick out causes, but none of them is one hundred per cent rational. As an Englishmen, I naturally start from a base of resentment against anyone with perfect dentition. This whole area is mildly radioactive for me right now, though, having just dug myself out (metaphorically speaking) from under a heap of emails I got in reaction to my "double-bagger" piece the other day. So let's leave the young lady's looks altogether out of it. I am myself, as numerous correspondents felt moved to observe, no oil painting. (Note to webmaster: Whose damn fool idea was it to put our photographs on the site?)

Nor does Chelsea have much of a track record to scrutinize. How could she have? There are some pretty clear indicators, which I shall get to in a moment; but she has not looted the White House, lied under oath, bombed an aspirin factory in Africa to get her personal legal problems off the front pages, raped anybody, used public employees to pimp for her, sold the Department of Defense to the Chinese Communist Party for cold cash, taken a fat bribe dressed up as a "commodities trade" or written a book arguing that parents cannot be trusted to raise their children. I note, however, that she doesn't deserve any credit for not having done these things; she just hasn't had time yet.

So what's my beef? Well, first there is the Willie Mufferson factor. You may recall that Tom Sawyer had a schoolmate named Willie Mufferson, the town's Model Boy.

He always brought his mother to church, and was the pride of all the matrons. The boys all hated him, he was so good. And besides, he had been "thrown up to them" so much. His white handkerchief was hanging out of his pocket behind, as usual on Sundays — accidentally. Tom had no handkerchief, and he looked upon boys who had, as snobs."

Who, in current public life, has been "thrown up to us" so much as Chelsea? As originally presented to us in the 1992 campaign, she was a shy pre-teen whose parents were determined to keep her out of the public eye. This lasted until the until the focus groups started reporting that the public saw the Clintons as a cold, self-obsessed power couple (imagine!), at which point People magazine was called in for a photo-shoot of Hillary and Chelsea in a hammock. Fair enough; and once they had got the White House, Chelsea was indeed kept out of view for the first five years or so of the Clinton presidency. Then the gush started.

For one thing, Chelsea had now reached the age at which it is acceptable to pass public comment on a woman's physical appearance. I'm not going there myself, for reasons I have already made clear, but by 1997 we had had a slew of feature stories about how Chelsea had "blossomed" into a "beautiful" and "poised" young woman. ("Poised" is one of those words that are inescapable in this context, but appear practically nowhere else — rather like the special language, incomprehensible to commoners, by which Japanese Emperors had to be addressed.) Well, fa-di-la. If my parents had had as much money as hers have — by stealing it, never let it be forgotten, or by bribing and lying their way into well-paid public offices — I'd be pretty damn "poised," too. Class envy? Mmm, not altogether. Sure, my parents lived in public housing (the other kind, not executive mansions), but I don't recall that they stole things, or lied under oath, or raped anybody.

And then there was the Lewinsky scandal, impeachment, and that famous shot of the three Clintons walking to the helicopter, Chelsea in the middle, holding hands with her parents. The buzz at the time was that Chelsea did it for Mom; was furious with Dad but was begged by Hillary — presumably to protect her "political viability" — to stage the whole phony performance. The public went Aaaaaah! I had a different take on it. Chelsea was eighteen at this point, coming on nineteen, certainly old enough to make decisions. (Hey, Henry the Fifth was governing Wales at sixteen.) This was the point at which she decided to sign on to the Great Clinton Project. Which is, has always been, and for ever will be, to enrich the family from the public fisc, and to lie, bomb, bribe and intimidate your way out of trouble when necessary. At that point my hatred of Chelsea found its feet.

Now, you may say: Come on, Derb, the girl was just being loyal to her folks. What would you have her do — publicly denounce them, like some Stalinist brat? No — though I think a really well-"poised" young lady might very well have said: "Dad, I'm with you. You're my Dad, and I'll love and support you any decent way I can. But the right thing at this point is for you to resign the Presidency, because you have done things a President ought not do. I will not do anything that helps you stay President." Look, if my Dad was a Mafioso, I might indeed be loyal to him, and defend him, and help keep him out of jail. But then, any decent person would hate me as much as he hated my Dad, and rightly so. I would be an accessory to his crimes, certainly in morality, if not in law.

But this is all rationalization. More than anything, I admit, I hate Chelsea because she is a Clinton. Not just genetically a Clinton, but in spirit and habit and manner. The evidence for this is now, I think, sufficient to indict.

Item: Last Christmas Eve, the Clintons attended Midnight Holy Communion at the National Cathedral in Washington. Chelsea was the first Clinton to show up … seven minutes into the introit! Mom and Dad were even later, of course. But why did Chelsea have to be late at all? To Holy Communion! It's just so … Clintonian, the utter lack of regard for other people. If you are a Clinton, other people don't exist, except for the few seconds they are handing over money to you or … well, you know.

Item: At the Middle East peace talks in Camp David last year, Chelsea took dinner with her father and Ehud Barak, and so monopolized the conversation, the Israelis are said to have been offended. Excuse me, but what the hell is Chelsea doing inserting herself into extremely delicate diplomatic negotiations? What position does she hold in the diplomatic corps? Who appointed her? We are told that Chelsea is by far the most traveled presidential offspring in history. On whose tab? To what purpose? Did she turn down any of these junkets? Of course not. Again, it's so Clintonian — the sense of entitlement, of sneering, lofty indifference to the fact that this money I am spending has been ripped from the pockets of hard-working Americans, most of them much poorer than me, by force of law. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

Item: When Chelsea went off to Stanford, we were told that she planned to study to become a pediatric cardiologist. How noble! — to give over one's life to curing the heart problems of little kiddies! Yeah, right. A Clinton, giving over her life for anything at all other than … herself. Now that there is no need for spin, we hear that her next stop is at Oxford University to study Economics. That's about m-o-n-e-y. Much more interesting than those damn kids and their stupid messed-up hearts.

Chelsea is a Clinton. She bears the taint; and though not prosecutable in law, in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored. All the great despotisms of the past — I'm not arguing for despotism as a principle, but they sure knew how to deal with potential trouble — recognized that the families of objectionable citizens were a continuing threat. In Stalin's penal code it was a crime to be the wife or child of an "enemy of the people." The Nazis used the same principle, which they called Sippenhaft, "clan liability." In Imperial China, enemies of the state were punished "to the ninth degree": that is, everyone in the offender's own generation would be killed, and everyone related via four generations up, to the great-great-grandparents, and four generations down, to the great-great-grandchildren, would also be killed. (This sounds complicated, but in practice what usually happened was that a battalion of soldiers was sent to the offender's home town, where they killed everyone they could find, on the principle neca eos omnes, deus suos agnoscet — "let God sort 'em out.")

We don't, of course, institutionalize such principles in our society, and a good thing too. Our humanity and forbearance, however, has a cost. The cost is, that the vile genetic inheritance of Bill and Hillary Clinton may live on to plague us in the future. It isn't over, folks. Dr. Nancy Snyderman, a "friend of the family" (how much money did she give them?) is quoted as saying that Chelsea shows every sign of following her parents into politics. "She's been bred for it," avers Dr. Snyderman. Be afraid: be very afraid.