Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Now Chelsea Wants Meaning In Life

We knew she was a liberal.

We knew she was privileged, poised, and smart.

But we didn't know she could be such an airhead.

Of all the things Bill and Hillary Clinton have done wrong in their public lives, I've always considered their only child, Chelsea, to be one of their genuine accomplishments.  Demure yet competent, the Clinton Daughter hasn't seemed to have let her high-profile upbringing turn her into a spoiled brat.

She went to college and got a job on Wall Street - thanks in no small part to her family's golden connections in academia and finance, of course - but even when she left her immensely lucrative job at a $12.5 billion hedge fund to pursue higher education in the fuzzy realms of public health and international relations, it was easy to assume she still had her head screwed on straight.

At least, for a liberal.

Turns out, Chelsea may truly have no clue about real life.  Sure, thanks to being a president's daughter, she's seen suffering on a global scale, but the more we learn about why she walked away from Wall Street, the more disingenuous her ambitions become.  It's not even like she's truly walked away from Wall Street.  Her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, is still a hedge fund power broker, virtually guaranteeing his wife a lifestyle that will spare her the indignities of the poverty and lack of opportunity she laments for others.

"Intellectually, I loved my job," Bloomberg.com quotes Chelsea as reminiscing about her few short years on The Street, "but I didn’t get any meaning from it."  Ostensibly, she's starting to find some meaning while sitting on the boards of the School of the American Ballet and Weill Cornell Medical College, and IAC/Interactive Corp, a website development company.

Oh, and she's also a special correspondent for the NBC television network, in addition to playing an integral role in her family's international policy think tank, the Clinton Global Initiative.

She must be getting blinded by all of the silver platters being handed to her.  Sure, there's a lot more to life than money, but it's a lot easier to say that when you've already got piles of the stuff.

Not that I'm particularly jealous of her, however.  True, I wouldn't mind that NBC gig, but I'm no fan of ballet, and whatever her qualifications for sitting on a prestigious medical school's board of directors, mine are even less.  A friend of mine used to work for Match.com, one of IAC's brands, and he raved about their corporate culture.  But he also told me about the time he saw some graphic designers augmenting the digitized chest of one of Match.com's female subscribers, and I don't think I could work for a company like that.

What strikes me about Mrs. Mezvinsky's purported altruism isn't what she's supposedly giving up to pursue global humanitarian work.  She's already got the power, influence, celebrity, and wealth necessary to pretty much chart whatever course she chooses in her life.  Instead, it's her apparent blindness to the contrivance of her new course.

For example, Chelsea defends her relatively short tenure in the finance world by claiming she "wanted to understand how people thought about money who were in the business of making money."  Apparently, she didn't realize she was answering her own question in that sentence.

Money indeed opens a lot of doors on our planet.  She should have already learned that from her parents, who perpetuate a facade of humble civic-mindedness but lead lifestyles of extravagance behind the photo-ops in Haiti.  Neither of them have really "earned" their wealth by producing tangible commodities like many other wealthy Americans have; they've parlayed their connections and personalities all the way into the lofty income tax brackets from which they now rule their charitable subjects.

It's one thing for people like the Clintons - and Chelsea, now, in particular - to claim that making money is a lot less fulfilling than getting other people to donate their own money to the Clinton family's pet projects.

It's another thing entirely to find oneself not on the theoretical sideline of humanity's struggles, but down in the trenches without the type of financial safety nets Chelsea and her parents enjoy.

When wealthy liberals wonder why conservatives distrust them, people like Chelsea provide an answer.  Sanctimony doesn't necessarily pay our bills.
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