Chelsea’s wedding: Why the big fuss?

Gossipmongers scavenged for details on the bride’s dress, the invitation list, the menu, the multimillion-dollar cost, and anything else that might titillate.  

“Have we no shame?” said Robin Givhan in The Washington Post. The frenzy leading up to last weekend’s Hudson Valley wedding between Chelsea Clinton and her longtime beau, Marc Mezvinsky, produced the journalistic equivalent of “Dumpster diving.” Gossipmongers scavenged for details on the bride’s dress, the invitation list, the menu, the multimillion-dollar cost, and anything else that might titillate. Although Chelsea is “so exceedingly well-behaved that she’s a tad boring,” we did everything possible to “transform her wedding into a media circus.” That’s because our society still fetishizes weddings, said Rebecca Traister in Salon.com. Chelsea is a brilliant woman who earned two master’s degrees, at Oxford and Columbia, has her parents’ command of complex policy issues, and gave persuasive, nuanced talks to college students in support of her mother’s presidential campaign. Yet because Chelsea is a woman, she, and we, are supposed to view her wedding day as the best—and most important—day of her life.

“Does it say something horrible about us” that we wanted to enjoy Chelsea’s big day? said Macy Halford in NewYorker.com. “I don’t think so.” The fact is that Chelsea grew up in one of the country’s most famous families, with wildly successful parents; when the rich and famous have weddings, it’s only natural that we look “for clues, subtle and not-so-subtle, about how to navigate our material and social worlds.” That’s especially true of the Clin­-tons, who are now benefiting from a “political rosy-glow syndrome,” said Tina Brown in TheDailyBeast.com. In retrospect, the mid-1990s look pretty good, with rising incomes, full employment, budget surpluses, and the relative peace that preceded 9/11. The Clinton wedding “allowed a bruised nation to forget, for a moment, the jarring 10 years in between.”

Chelsea, too, could have gone off the rails over the last 10 years, said Gail Collins in The New York Times. Growing up in the White House, with the entire nation watching, can mess with the heads of presidential progeny, and lead to heavy drinking and personal chaos. (FDR’s five children managed to rack up 19 marriages.) But like Amy Carter and the Bush twins, Chelsea somehow turned into a healthy, productive, and even inspiring citizen. So congratulations, Chelsea—and kudos to Jenna, Barbara, and Amy, too. “We are pleased to be a country that produced such nice young adults out of such a lunatic political environment.”

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