Thursday on the Today show, Meredith Vieira asked special correspondent Jenna Bush if she had any words of advice for Chelsea Clinton. “I just want her to enjoy every minute,” Bush said. “She’s lovely and I know she’ll make a beautiful bride.” They should have asked Jenna’s advice earlier — she could have shared an even more important insight: Don’t be outrageously coy about your wedding; it will only draw more attention.
A quick look on Nexis indicates that by the time it was two days before Jenna’s nuptials, there were 414 articles about the event in major news outlets and blogs. As of yesterday, there have been 486 about Chelsea’s wedding — nearly 20 percent more. Before the day of Jenna’s wedding, there was a mere one article about it in the Times, focusing on the fact that it wouldn’t be held at the White House (Bush was still in office then, remember? This was the daughter of a sitting president). By now, the Times has published four articles about Chelsea’s wedding, two about the secrecy of the whole affair, one about people being afraid to talk about it, and one, for good measure, about Clinton allies who are pissed they weren’t invited. (Hey — Obama didn’t mind!)
Is this because Chelsea is simply more famous than Jenna Bush? Her parents more enthralling and controversial? Nice try. Yes, America was hard on little Chelsea and her braces and her frizzy hair — but they were twice as hard on fake-I.D.-owning, drunken-falling Jenna and her twin sister, Barbara. (It should be noted, as Gail Collins said eloquently yesterday in a column about Chelsea’s wedding, that all three grew up to be accomplished, lovely women. Oh wait, that’s a fifth article!)
Is the fascination, as Michael Wolff suggests, that it’s all just politics? “The Clintons, forever being dissed, dismissed, and declared kaput, stubbornly, intractably, remain at the heart of the Democratic Party,” he wrote yesterday. “It’s an entire liberal political establishment yet wanting to be friends of Bill’s and Hillary’s … It’s Camelot in Rhinebeck.”
Come on, now. The reason the details of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding have become such a big deal is simple: They are a secret. And no offense to Chelsea, who has her reasons, but what an absurd, farcical secret! Guests didn’t even know until this week where the celebration would be, or even where they are staying? Who thought of this, Anna “I live at 99 Fake Street” Chapman?
Jenna Bush never made a secret that her wedding would be at her parents’ secluded ranch in Crawford, Texas. Sure, there will be a vast difference in the size and sumptuousness of the the two celebrations, and that is the prerogative of both brides. There are security precautions surrounding both, like the airspace being cleared by the U.S. military. But at only one of the ceremonies’ host towns were two international journalists arrested for trying to take pictures of the location.
What if I told you Condoleezza Rice was dating someone? That’s interesting, right? What if I told you the former secretary of State was dating someone, but I can’t tell you who it is. ZOMG so much more fascinating!! WHO IS IT? Is it a boy or a girl? Is it a foreign head of state? Wait, wait — it’s Dick Cheney, isn’t it!? Now that his heart has literally stopped beating, he’s finally cool enough to have an affair.
Luckily, in the month before a bride’s wedding, she’s not worried about much more than fitting into her dress, getting the groom down the aisle, and making sure everything is as close to perfect as it can be. Chelsea has some added burdens (is Bubba gonna blubba?), but media scrutiny, so long as it doesn’t get in the way of the big day, is probably not the biggest of her concerns. Still, it seems pretty clear that it could have been even less of a concern if she hadn’t pushed America’s collective secret button, and gotten us going down this nonsensical, insatiable path.