Chelsea Clinton - Sad Victim of Her Parents' Ambition

By Alicia Colon
Rightgrrl Contributor
December 1999
Originally Published in Staten Island Advance

Politics is brutal and anyone entering this arena needs a hard, tough shell to survive. I thought of this while watching news footage of Hillary Clinton's recent visit to Israel. She is being racked over the coals for not objecting to Suha Arafat's scathing accusations against our ally Israel.

Frankly, I thought that this media bashing was unfair because Hillary was listening to Suha's diatribe through earphones for the translation. It's hard enough understanding translations directly without the added handicap of headphones. Besides, who knows what the translator was actually saying? How do we know he wasn't just saying, `You look Marvelous.''

Perhaps Hillary could have shown more indignation but since she was there in a diplomatic capacity, I think she tried to do the best she could under the circumstances so I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt-this time..

I feel some sympathy for anyone having to endure evisceration by the press but my heart really goes out to her daughter, Chelsea. There she was, standing with a frozen smile next to her mother while the cameras clicked away at them. Clearly this is not how a nineteen year old college student wants to spend her days but it is what is expected of this particular first daughter. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal exploded last year, much concern was expressed about the effect of the sordid mess on innocent Chelsea. But mother Hillary assured the American public that Chelsea was up to the challenge. In fact, she and Bill had been preparing her for the nasty drawbacks of a political life since she was a little girl.

Maybe some people were comforted by this information but I was horrified by the details of what I consider borderline child abuse. According to Christopher P. Andersen, author of Bill and Hillary: The Marriage, this indoctrination of Chelsea began when she was just six years old.

The Clintons were preparing for a messy 1986 reelection campaign and since Chelsea could now read, they feared that she would become aware of accusations made by the enemies of Clinton. Hillary decided to playact certain scenarios at dinnertime to prepare Chelsea for the upcoming negative campaign. While Chelsea played the role of candidate Bill Clinton, her father and mother would play his enemies and point their fingers at her and say that Clinton was a bad man and they would not vote for ``him.''

They drove her to tears but their little soldier soon learned to adjust to their finger pointing and jeers over several weeks of drilling. Andersen writes:

``Like two lawyers playing devil's advocate to prepare their star witness for cross-examination, Bill and Hillary peppered Chelsea with questions and insults until she was numb. "Our role-playing," Hillary would later explain, "helped Chelsea to experience, in the privacy of our own home, the feelings of any person who sees someone she loves being personally attacked.''

During one television interview during the Monica mess, Hillary seemed proud of this preparation and successful training of her little daughter who had learned the mastery of her own emotions. Was I the only one who found this chilling?

I have no doubt that Hillary and Bill love their daughter Chelsea as much as they possible can but I wonder if their parental judgment hasn't been skewered by their massive political ambitions. Was it easier to indoctrinate and prepare Chelsea for scandal than to change Clinton's potentially scandalizing behavior? Apparently.

In essence what they were really teaching Chelsea was this: ``Honey, you're going to hear a lot of nasty things said about your father. Unfortunately, most of this things are true but since he's not going to change, you'll have to be the one to toughen up.''

Has Chelsea lived up to this challenge? Perhaps, but at what cost? She has allegedly been hospitalized three times since the scandal for what the White House claimed was the flu but what sources say are actually stress related anxiety attacks. When People Magazine ran a puff piece on Chelsea in their Feb. 15, 1999 issue, the Clintons complained that this was an invasion of Chelsea's private life. Yet they do not seem to object to hauling her out of Stanford to act as a public relations buffer whenever a crisis explodes.

Chelsea is the innocent Clinton with no heavy baggage to inflame a media frenzy. That's why I felt so sad watching her on her mother's Israel jaunt. Is this what she really wants to do? Shouldn't she be back at Stanford with her friends, trying to live a normal life?

Instead, she wears that frozen smile on her face that never quite reaches her eyes. She waves to the crowds and does her duty while her mother beams at her.

We can expect to see a lot of Chelsea here in New York while her mother campaigns for a senatorial seat especially if the New York press clamps down hard on her. Break out the secret weapon. Bring on Chelsea.

Her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton said on NBC's ``Today'' show. ``She has seen many examples of it{scandal} in her short life. So it's not a pleasant experience, but it's given her the sort of grounding to be able to see what this is and get through it.''

``She was born and bred in the heat of battle,'' Clinton ally Jesse Jackson has said of Chelsea, ``That contributed mightily to her maturity.''

Seems to me that she's more of a pawn for her parent's ambitions than a beloved child but maybe I'm wrong.

Perhaps, Chelsea really loves the excitement and challenge of a good political battle. Perhaps she enjoys traveling around the world to exotic cities and luxuriating in all the perks that political power brings. Maybe she is stronger than I give her credit for. Maybe she likes rescuing her parents from the nasty press. Maybe she has developed political ambitions like both her parents. Maybe she's learned her lessons too well. Could she be Hillary II?

If that's the case, she and the nation have my deepest sympathy.

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Copyright 1999-2000 by Alicia Colon. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.