I am in a quandary over Chelsea Clinton’s multimillion-dollar wedding. I want to be happy for her. I want to join the cheering throngs wishing her a long and happy marriage.
I am a big Bill Clinton fan. And I think Hillary has to be among the smartest people in the world.
And I know it’s mean-spirited of me to rain on Chelsea’s parade. She deserves better.
From everything I know she is a well behaved, dutiful daughter who has kept her nose clean and done well in school. It’s a shame to think negative thoughts about her on her special day.
But I would be lying if I said I have no misgivings.
Not just because I think that spending millions on a wedding is insulting to American families who are being thrown out of their homes or losing their unemployment benefits. Not just because the fawning media references to the bride as a “princess” and the wedding as “royal” make me sick to my stomach.
I suppose such grotesque excess is par for the course. It is the American way. It might well be the way of the world, God help us!
The source of my malaise is not even the fact that the groom’s father – a former Congressman named Edward M. Mezvinsky – was convicted of defrauding his closest friends and relatives. Or that he and his Nigerian pals sent out false messages notifying email users that they were due to collect millions of dollars once they put up the requisite front money. To me that kind of scam is about as low as it gets but I’m willing to let bygones be bygones. The man served his time in prison, after all. He has “paid his debt to society.”
And I realize it would be unfair to blame Chelsea’s groom for the sins of his father.
Furthermore – according to MSNBC pundit Keith Olbermann – the groom’s mother, Marjorie Margolies, sacrificed her political career to “do the right thing.” She was the deciding vote in Congress for President Bill Clinton’s controversial 1993 budget, which set the country on the road to prosperity. It was that vote which led to Ms. Margolies’ political defeat because the Clinton budget included a modest tax increase.
So I suppose the groom’s highly principled mother cancels out his low-life dad. And it might even be true that his father’s crazily crooked behavior was caused by medication he was taking (as he said at his trial).
I know all that. It’s something else that bothers me.
What makes me uneasy is that the couple are both involved in the Wall Street culture that brought the world’s financial system to its knees and is still sucking the life’s blood from the American economy.
Chelsea’s husband Marc works for a hedge fund, and from everything I’ve heard and read, hedge funds are no better than Las Vegas casinos.
Indeed, Chelsea also worked for a hedge fund before going on to get a master’s degree in public health at Columbia University.
If the Clintons, who are Democratic Party icons, are so obviously a part of America’s moneyed elite, I can only imagine how “connected’ the Republican leaders must be.
In such an environment, what hope can there be for the working class? How can members of Congress have any empathy with the teachers, cops and firefighters who are being laid off? Or the single mothers who are racking their brains to figure out how to pay this month’s rent?
As American society increasingly congeals into “haves” and “have nots,” the people’s representatives increasingly come from the class of the “haves.”
In the U.S. political system, it cannot be otherwise. The sky-high cost of an election campaign and the tolerance for legal bribery (which was recently reinforced by the Supreme Court’s ruling on corporate campaign funding) essentially shut out everyday Americans.
America’s politicians may still talk like the folks back home, but very few of them live like the folks back home once they get to Washington.