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First Daughter, 476th Puff Piece

For those who can't read all the way through Jodi Kantor's sticky valentine to Chelsea Clinton, there were mildly negative bits

If someone tried to capture just the cheerleading parts of Jodi Kantor's Tuesday piece on Chelsea Clinton, they'd have to recycle virtually the entire article. So let's be counterintuitive and dwell on the mildly negative revelations.


In line with Kantor's odd idea that Chelsea Clinton is a potential president of the United States in decades to come, she notices her relentless focus on artifice: "classmates at Stanford noticed she was always in full makeup, as if she expected to be photographed at any moment. (More recently, she exercised with a personal trainer who specializes in pageant contestants.)"


This is quite daring for Kantor, since many remember that focusing on Chelsea's appearance with a beauty-pageant focus is perilous territory. Remember the incredibly mild "Saturday Night Live" joke by Mike Myers in a "Wayne's World" segment in 1993 raving over the attractiveness of the Gore daughters and saying of Chelsea "we're rooting for you" to grow into a beauty? The line was excised in all repeats.


Another interesting note is the line about Chelsea taking after her mother in the desire for wealth, or when describing liberals, call it "financial independence" as she works for Avenue Capital Group, a hedge fund.Kantor wrote: "Friends say financial independence is important to Ms. Clinton; she may improve on her low-six-figure McKinsey salary by hundreds of thousands of dollars at Avenue because of potential bonuses, industry headhunters say." We can guessthis will make it more difficult to take Chelsea on one of those earnest poverty tours of Appalachia.


Is it just me, or do the Times stories on the Clintons seem particularly littered with "friends say" sourcing?


Lastly, Kantor recalls how Chelsea was the subject of papa-pandering, that she was allowed to "break the tension" of Middle East negotiations at Camp David, and Mideast negotiator Dennis Ross adds that "it was not uncommon" to see to see Chelsea or her mother sitting in on briefings during the Clinton years: "The two women 'could be great sounding boards for the president.' More recently, Senator Clinton called her daughter one of her two 'greatest advisors,' along with her husband." Shades of Amy Carter advising Jimmy on nuclear proliferation? The Times thinks the subject is safe from mockery now, and can be employed to build up her reputation for seriousness.


The impenetrable media bubble that was Chelsea's Fortress of Solitude has only been broken to exploit her for her parents' political gain. (See here.) But this whole shyness gambit is leading to headache-inducing levels of fanzine copy. She's so silent that Kantor finds "She rarely says anything surprising. She doesn't have to: people seem delighted just to watch her lips move and hear sound emerge."


Doesn't anyone ever read copy like this back to Times reporters and mock them for sounding so completely in the Clinton tank that they don't know fresh air from the gaseous fumes in there?