Will Clinton Baby Affect 2016, and Is It Sexist to Ask?

Apr 18, 2014 11:24am
GTY hillary chelsea clinton kab 140418 16x9 608 Will Clinton Baby Affect 2016, and Is It Sexist to Ask?

                        (Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

It’s impossible to talk about the Clintons these days without mentioning 2016 in the same breath. And the announcement of Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy is proving to be no different.

People are already speculating about how – or if – the new Clinton grandchild could affect Hillary Clinton’s possible run for the presidency. Could the title “Grandma” mean more to the potential presidential front-runner than the title “President?”

Almost immediately after news broke that the former first daughter was expecting, the Christian Science Monitor published this headline: “Chelsea Clinton Baby: Will Hillary Clinton Be Less Likely to Run in 2016?” A USA Today piece on the announcement included a line with a similar suggestion, noting, “It’s unclear how Chelsea’s pregnancy will affect Hillary Clinton, who is considering a race for president in 2016.”

And a Politico report raised the possibility that “having a grandchild may make the Iowa State Fair a less appealing place to spend the summer of 2015.”

But is it fair to pit grandmotherly desires against political ambition? Would anyone ever ask the same questions about a male politician? Is this speculation, in essence, sexist?

ABC television writer Shonda Rhimes expressed her opinions about all the chatter on Twitter Thursday evening.

“On another topic: This is incredibly stupid. No one would ever write this dumb*** article about a MAN running,” the “Scandal” creator tweeted, with a link to the USA Today story.

Even the Christian Science Monitor piece acknowledged that drawing a connection between the two could be unfair.

“Perhaps it’s sexist even to ask the question – how will a grandchild affect her decision,” the reporter wrote. “But until she announces either way, it will be out there.”

Then again, those doing the speculating might be taking cues from Hillary herself. In recent months, when asked about whether she plans to run in 2016, Clinton has actually invoked the possibility of becoming a grandmother, and mentioned how much she has enjoyed her recent, more family-oriented life, to delicately skirt the question.

“I’m not going to make a decision for a while because I’m actually enjoying my life,” Clinton, 66, said last week in San Francisco when asked whether she’ll run for president. “I’m actually having fun, you know, just doing ordinary things like seeing my friends, going on long walks, playing with our dogs, and doing stuff that you know sounds pretty simple but at the end of the day it’s what really gives joy and meaning to your life.”

Last month at a Clinton Foundation event in Arizona, Clinton took to the topic of grandchildren as a seemingly welcome escape to avoid answering a similar question. “I wouldn’t mind one of those grandchildren that I hear so much about,” Clinton said with a smile.

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, who was moderating the event, called her out on it: “I love that when asked the question that everyone asks you all the time, you threw your daughter right under the bus with the baby,” he quipped.

Bill Clinton, too, has contributed to the idea that being a grandmother and being president are intertwined for his wife.

At the 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Clinton spoke about his desire – and more specifically his wife’s desire – to have a grandchild.

“I’d like to be a grandfather. I have nothing to do with that achievement, but I would like it,” Clinton said. “I would like to have a happy wife, and she won’t be unless she’s a grandmother.”

Then, alluding to her unsuccessful bid in 2008 for the presidency, Clinton added, “It’s something she wants more than she wanted to be president.”

And when the former president was asked last month whether Hillary Clinton would rather be president or a grandmother during an interview with “CBS This Morning,” Clinton guessed his wife would choose grandchildren over the Oval Office.

“Do you think she’d rather be – today, she can do both – president or a grandmother?” CBS’ Charlie Rose asked.

“If you ask her, I think she’d say grandmother, but I have found it best not to discuss that issue,” Clinton said.

Two weeks ago at the Women in the World summit in New York City, Hillary Clinton laid bare her views about what she believes is a “double standard” that the media puts on women. “There is a double standard, obviously,” she told The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman. “We have all either experienced it or at the very least seen it. … The double standard is alive and well and, I think, in many respects, the media is the principle propagator of its persistence.”

But Hillary Clinton’s twitter bio reads, “wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, Sec of State, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker,” and famously now, “TBD…”

For a woman who holds so many titles, it seems like a stretch to suggest she won’t now try to juggle two more.

 

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