I’m going to start by giving Chelsea Clinton, the lone offspring of two of the shadiest, nonstop hustlers on this whirling galactic casino, a little bit of credit: She doesn’t seem like she’s completely crazy.
That’s saying something, considering all she went through in the ’90s. Those of us who shared our teen or preteen years with her, buffered by the blithe decade that was supposedly the “end of history,” but—surprise!—really wasn’t, felt her pain. First, there was her awkward adolescence, broadcast to every single person in the United States of America. Then there was “That Woman,” who wore a mortifying beret. Then there was The Impeachment.
Finally, through it all, there was Socks the Cat, who, let’s be honest, didn’t really have the razzle-dazzle, magical showbiz “it” factor needed to win the hearts of Americans long jaded by the Clinton years. If photographic evidence is to be believed, this general feeling of “meh” was also shared by White House secretary Betty Currie:
“Ugh,” she seems to be thinking. “Where is my can of CAT-BE-GONE?” But I digress. Chelsea made it through, and today she provides us with a strange, twisted glimpse of the American Dream: Because her parents hustled so thoroughly and so ruthlessly, Chelsea now doesn’t have to hustle at all.
Chelsea Clinton’s First Fake Job
You might remember Chelsea’s first Potemkin job as a “reporter” for NBC News, which she left last fall. Joe Coscarelli, who writes at New York Magazine, pretty much nailed the situation last August: “Chelsea Clinton has announced, via People, that she will no longer pretend to be a reporter. The once (and future?) First Daughter has been a ‘special correspondent’ for NBC News since 2011, when she was dubbed, following her debut, ‘one of the most boring people of her era.’ For the occasional feel-good segment or interview with the CGI Geico gecko, Clinton earned a reported annual salary of $600,000, or approximately $26,724 for every minute she was on-air.”
Here’s what I wonder: During the course of her employment at NBC, did Chelsea Clinton ever come home, look at her ridiculously gigantic pay stub, and collapse on the bed in a pile of helpless, knowing giggles? This would be a good test of character. It would also indicate that, despite her upbringing, she Gets The Joke, at least in a cosmic sense. Alas, I do not think Chelsea Gets The Joke—or, if she does, she does an impressive job of hiding it.
Chelsea, you see, is now vice chairwoman at the Clinton Foundation, which is her second extremely impressive fake job. In a recent interview with Fortune magazine, Clinton promoted the foundation’s latest initiative, “No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project.” What is this project, you may ask? Take it away, Clinton Foundation website:
No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project is a Clinton Foundation initiative led by Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton to inspire and advance the full participation of women and girls around the world. Even today, persistent stereotypes and barriers keep women from equal access, representation, and compensation in our communities and around the world. No Ceilings is convening global partners to build a data-driven evaluation of the progress women and girls have made and the challenges that remain to help chart the path forward to full participation in the 21st century.
Well, that clears it up. Ha, just kidding! It’s completely broad, murky, and vague.
What Chelsea Clinton Doesn’t Know About Japan
Chelsea’s interview in Fortune doesn’t really help, either: In her Q & A, she jumps from education “barriers” to child marriage to female genital mutilation to a dearth of female CEOs. And then she says this:
Greater participation in the workforce by women is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. That’s true in developed world. That’s a conversation my mom had with [Japan’s] Prime Minister Abe in September. The reason the Prime Minister is so focused on more women in the workforce is that he’s not impervious to all the studies done by the IMF and others saying if women participated at the same rates as men, the Japanese economy not only wouldn’t need to fear stagnation, but it would pretty quickly return to robust year-over-year GDP growth.
Great Rambling Spirit of Socks the Cat! This is problematic, especially if you know anything about Japan. It is also a pristine illustration of how many of the people behind these largely Progressive vanity projects work: They prattle on about “studies done by the IMF” and “robust year-over-year GDP growth” and name-drop people like Prime Minister Abe, which makes it sound like they actually know what they’re talking about. Unfortunately, this is when they usually reveal their view that Tokyo is basically the nice parts of Manhattan, together with the culture of Manhattan, replicated and transplanted 6,756 miles to the West.
If you’ve been to Japan, or read about Japan, or even thought a little bit about Japan, you know this isn’t the case. Japan faces a serious cultural and societal crisis, fueled largely by the fact that it does not have enough young people to support its aging population. It is a nation with one of the lowest birthrates in the world. In 2012, adult diapers outsold baby diapers for the first time; by 2060, it has been projected, Japan’s population will drop by almost a third.
A growing percentage of Japan’s young people have shunned relationships, sex, marriage, and children. Young male “herbivores” eschew women; many young Japanese women, for their part, favor raw consumerism over men. Meanwhile, a growing population of shut-ins, or “hikikomori”—estimated to be between 500,000 and two million—refuse to leave their homes or bedrooms, sometimes for years.
Would the “No Ceilings” approach of pushing more women into the workplace potentially boost Japan’s economy for the next, say, 20 years? Perhaps. Would it inadvertently fuel the real crisis in Japan—which is the lack of marriage and children—and completely miss the heart of the problem facing that country? Probably. Oh, well. You say tomato, I say debacle.
Constant Displays of Maddening Ignorance
To be fair, when you’re running a foundation that is quite literally attempting to solve all the problems for all women in the entire world, it’s hard to know every relevant fact or cultural nuance. It’s also impossible, as history has shown, to structure massive economies and diverse cultures using a few top-down directives. Hayek called this the “knowledge problem.” The Clinton Foundation, apparently, calls this “Tuesday.”
In the close of her interview with Fortune, Clinton implies that the goal of “No Ceilings” is no less than making sure no woman will ever have to make a hard choice ever again. This would seem to involve somehow skirting the reality of life on earth, but Clinton, unabashed, gives a timeline of 20 years for this goal. One could offer a modest counter-suggestion: How about picking one or two causes, actually learning all about them, and working with localities from the bottom up, rather than trying to restructure the entire world with one broad and rather clueless brush? That way, you might actually help people and get something done.
I know, I know. I crack myself up. These are modern Progressives. That’s just not how they roll.