Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chelsea Again

Chelsea Clinton, backed by America Ferrara, Amber Tamblyn, and Keyshawn Johnson

The Grille, a student eatery on our campus, was packed with students, faculty members, and a few townies, including the mayor, when Chelsea Clinton and her entourage arrived a little before 10 a.m. Tuesday for a surprisingly long session for Hillary. The supporting cast included actors America Ferrara (Ugly Betty), Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia), and Keyshawn Johnson (NFL veteran). Chelsea held the floor longest, asking for questions following brief introductory remarks. She was poised and articulate, thoroughly briefed on her mother's positions. When someone asked about an issue (such as health benefits for illegal immigrants) she wasn't intimately familiar with, she went ahead and said, "We haven't discussed that, but I think what my mom would say is...."--and she proceeded with a perfectly reasonable response. The most interesting comments came after personal questions: "What did the three of you talk about at the White House dinner table?" or "What secret can you tell us about your mother?" Her response to the latter was to tell how obsessed with "Gray's Anatomy" both of her parents are. They never want to miss it. I was surprised at Chelsea's wisdom and maturity, but then I remind myself that she's now (like her father) a graduate of Oxford University and is a 27-year-old financial analyst in New York. So she's not exactly a shy and gawky first daughter any more. My colleague, political scientist Alissa Warters, has written about presidential children and so was especially interested in meeting Chelsea. Alissa sat on the front row for the rally, but I don't know whether she broached the idea of an interview. An hour or so after the Clinton rally, Chris Tucker was on campus speaking for Barack Obama; I had to miss his lively talk because of a class. It's a shame when teaching stands in the way of our education at Francis Marion University. The South Carolina Democratic primary is Saturday, so this season's string of visiting politicians and surrogates now ends, and the candidates (those few still in the race) move on to Florida or to the states holding primaries on Super Tuesday (Feb. 5).


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