Tuesday 24 October 2017

Camelot glamour lives on through Clintons

Rupert Cornwell

IN case you missed it, a hedge-fund manager married a post-graduate student of healthcare administration in upstate New York yesterday. The whole thing was said to cost $3m (€2.3m) or more (including an $11,000 wedding cake) and took place in a gorgeous mansion with fairytale views over the Hudson River.

So, you ask, what else is new in unions among America's opulent and recession-proof elite? The answer is nothing. Except the bride's name was Chelsea Clinton.

The monumental fuss over the Clinton-Marc Mezvinsky nuptials proves one thing beyond doubt. In the unofficial monarchical successions of the US, the Kennedys are dead, long live the Clintons. This is not the marriage of a future healthcare manager, however talented. It is the marriage of a princess.

The precise moment of succession came last August with the death of Teddy, the last of the Kennedy brothers. A few still carry a torch of kinds: Jean Kennedy Smith, now the only one still living of old Joe's nine children, and Patrick, Teddy's son, who is retiring from Congress this year at the tender age of 43. But the light is flickering its very last.

If sheer dynastic heft were the yardstick, the crown would have passed to the Bushes; after all, with a senator, two presidents and one big state governor over three generations, that family easily outpoints the single president and senator-turned-secretary of state over a single generation that the Clintons can muster.

But the Clintons it is. They, not the Bushes, provide that cocktail of ambition, talent, glamour and frisson of naughtiness that the professed republicans on this side of the Atlantic crave, to turn a presidential family into a royal one. The Kennedys had it; so, in slightly louche fashion, do Hillary and Bill.

Nothing, though, is more revealing than the fuss, or lack of it, that surrounds the marriage of a presidential child. The last one to create a hoopla was that of John Kennedy Jnr to Carolyn Bessette in 1996, three years before the couple died in an air crash.

By comparison, the marriage of Bush's daughter Jenna in May 2008 -- when her father was still president -- passed almost unnoticed.

On the Richter scale of glamour, Jenna's husband, Henry Hager, a former government aide, rates about the same as Marc Mezvinsky. The difference is the "Steve Martin factor": the father of the bride.

By the time of Jenna's marriage, George W's popularity was plumbing record depths, and Americans were simply tuning out all things Bush. Even in his darkest hour, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton was never that disliked.

And let Americans take heart. The offspring of real royalty in Britain have a pretty wretched track record. And so it used to be here: Franklin Roosevelt's five children who reached adulthood clocked up 19 marriages between them. But the sons and daughters of recent presidents who have grown up in the White House pressure cooker have been models of normality.

Amy Carter lived at the White House under a relentless media microscope from the age of nine to 13. Nonetheless she came through the experience to live happily and quietly with James Wentzel, her husband of 14 years, in her native Georgia.

And now we have Chelsea Clinton, just 18 when the Lewinsky scandal blew up. But she's handled that and, it seems, everything else.

In other words, she's a perfect princess. (© Independent News Service)

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