On Chelsea, Monica, and the Scandal That Dare Not Speak Its Name

By Jennifer Parker

Apr 1, 2008 10:30am

At N.C. State yesterday, Chelsea Clinton was again asked by a student about her father’s conduct as president, i.e., l’affair Lewinsky.

The question came on the heels of a question asked Chelsea last week by Evan Strange, a student at Butler University, as to whether her mother lost credibility by initially blaming the controversy on a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

Chelsea curtly told Strange that it was none of his business.

Strange, a self-described Clinton supporter, insists he was not trying to cause trouble. (Watch him explain himself HERE) He supports Clinton and his friends always ask him about the scandal, he said.

This week, Chelsea, speaking at the Talley Student Center, was asked by freshman Bryce Davis about her response to Strange.

"It’s none of your business," Chelsea said. "I’m sure there are things in your family that you don’t think are anyone’s business either."

Davis started to walk out, and Chelsea told him she didn’t think anyone should vote for or against her mother because of her father.

"I’m not leaving because of that," Davis said. "I have a class."

Watch the exchange HERE.

In the N.C. State student newspaper, Davis explained himself further.

Chelsea’s "father, at the time, was the president of the United States, and one of his primary duties as President was to be chief citizen," Davis said. "[By acting as] chief citizen, he should be a model citizen for the United States….I was not trying to embarrass Chelsea Clinton in front of my peers and I felt that when I left the meeting after my question, people felt that I was storming out of the building. In reality, I had a 12:30 p.m. class that I was five minutes late to."

Certainly there are more polite questions to ask someone than about when her father cheated on her mother.

That said, the Clinton campaign is trying to have it both ways — using Chelsea as a spokeswoman, a surrogate, to advance Sen. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, but not subjecting her to the rigors other spokespeople — including Cate Edwards, Meghan McCain, and the Romney boys — have agreed to go through.

Chelsea’s rule is that she doesn’t take questions from the media, but she takes them from "real people."

Now she’s deciding she’s not going to answer some of the real people’s questions, too.

If only questions about her father’s extra-curricular activities were just a personal "none of your business" type deal.

They’re not.

They tend to become huge scandals that distract from the more important work a president should be doing.

Clinton defenders say that’s only because we live in a world with a vast right-wing media apparatus and a compliant, bottom-feeding media. Even if you buy that notion, this is the world we live in. Given that, it’s nothing short of astonishing that we’ve made it this far in the campaign with few serious questions to Sen. Clinton about the impeachment of her husband.

Obviously, Sen. Obama won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. I’m not sure the Republicans will be that chivalrous.

When a senior adviser to Obama in Iowa raised the specter of Monica’s stained GAP dress last week, the Clinton campaign pounced, pointing out the hypocrisy of Obama’s supposedly clean-campaign invoking such a personal attack. Obama denounced the comment, the Iowa adviser took it back.

Fair enough. But I don’t think it’s unfair to ask the Clinton campaign if they can assure the American people that nothing like impeachment — nothing that a normal family would be able to shrug off with "none of your business" — will happen again.

Maybe Chelsea will never have to come up with a better answer than "None of your business." But I don’t know that her parents will be able to use that. Unfortunately, it became all of our business in graphically-footnoted detail.

The only time I’ve seen this question asked of Sen. Clinton was during the Politico/WJLA interview of Clinton two months ago.

A reader asked: "How could we be sure that some new business or personal scandal involving Bill Clinton won’t erupt which the Republicans will use to blow your agenda and your administration right out of the water?"

Clinton’s response: "Well, you know, I just can assure this reader that that is not going to happen. You know, none of us can predict the future, no matter who we are and what we’re running for, but I’m very confident that that will not happen."

"None of us can predict the future"??

- jpt

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