Monday, March 31, 2008

Chelsea takes another pass

Chelsea Clinton can ignore the Monica Lewinsky question all she wants, but apparently voters aren't playing along.

Last week, Chelsea scolded a Butler University student for asking whether the scandal hurt her mother's credibility.

"I do not think that is any of your business," the former first daughter flatly stated.

Welllllll ... as Chief of Staff A.J. MacInerney said in The American President (only one of the best movies ever made), "With all due respect, sir, the American people have a funny way of deciding on their own what is and what is not their business."

Witness Monday's Clinton rally at North Carolina State University, where another college student decided for himself what is and what is not his business as an American citizen. From CNN:

Campaigning at North Carolina State, a student brought up the touchy subject, saying the scandal was the public's business since the incident occurred when her father was President of the United States.

The younger Clinton sharply disagreed she should discuss the matter.

"It's none of your business," she said. "That is something that is personal to my family. I'm sure there are things that are personal to your family that you don't think are anyone else's business either." ... The student later defended his comments to CNN affiliated WTVD, saying "I felt that it is our business because he was president at the time, and his first duty is to be chief citizen."
Ahem. While it's true that every family has things that "you don't think are anyone else's business either," no one else's family includes a husband who was president of the United States and a wife who would like to be.

And as far as this whole "Don't-ask-me-about-Monica" strategy goes, in my opinion, they're going about it all wrong. If I was advising the Clinton team, I would encourage Chelsea to consider how she wants to respond to the Lewinsky issue. She's not a sheltered teenager anymore; she's an adult who's campaigning for her mother, and people want to know what she thinks. Instead of running from it, she should embrace that power. She has a tremendous opportunity -- and she's the only one in this position -- to speak plainly about what happened and how she thinks it contributed to her mother's character. There are plenty of women out there whose spouses have strayed; the campaign is missing an opportunity to humanize Hillary by not addressing this issue.

(I know what you're thinking ... the Clintons? Miss an opportunity to score political points? But apparently even the Clintons have a public embarrassment threshold, and it's spelled M-O-N-I-C-A.)

In politics, the longer you put off addressing an issue, the bigger the issue will become. In other words, Chelsea, there will always be someone who thinks your business is his business ...

Just ask any paparazzo.