Wednesday, February 13, 2008

campaigning for your dad (or mom): Chelsea Clinton v Meghan McCain

Rachel Lairimore has an absurd blog entry on Slate on the difference between Meghan McCain and Chelsea Clinton. Lairimore's assertion is that there's something substantively different between 23 year old McCain blogging about how different times of the day on Super Tuesday correspond to different pop songs, and Chelsea Clinton talking about her mother's fiscal policy. Thus, the 'pimped out' commentary.

My first thought was, this is disgusting. Then, I started to think it through. Let's think about Cindy McCain, Meghan's mom. She's beautiful and much younger than her husband, and I mean no disrespect by pointing that out. Based on her Wikipedia entry she seems to have done considerable work in philanthropy, specifically with disabled children, and really helped John McCain launch his political career. Good for her. However, let's be frank: though Cindy McCain did have a career (in 'business' - whatever that entails, as well as running a foundation) she is no Hillary Clinton in the career-woman contest. She's stayed on the traditionally female side of things, sticking to non-controversial issues like charitable giving, and hasn't really played a role in McCain's legislative initiatives.

Hillary, on the other hand, used her husband's political career as an opportunity to advance her own ideas about policy and to cultivate her own political skills. She's not known for how pretty she is, like Cindy McCain - she's known for her ambition and competence. Both her persona and Cindy's have worked for them in some ways and against them in some ways. But we can agree that they represent two very different versions of what a politician's wife can do.

So, knowing what we know about the moms, is it any surprise that Meghan chooses to focus her contribution to her dad's campaign on things other than policy, while Chelsea makes the exact opposite decision? They are both filling the supporting role that their mothers exemplified. (Generally). So, I don't know if this was Lairimore's intention, but she really said that Chelsea is acting inappropriately by acting ... like her mom.

Again, Hillary gets slammed for being competent and assertive, and this time her daughter goes down with her.

UPDATE: Cindy McCain actually ran a Budweiser distribution company of substantial size. I guess that's the 'business'. More on her and other candidates' spouses on the BBC.

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