Boys Gone Wild

by digby

Jonathan Chait wrote a famous essay on the Netroots that concluded with this thought:

Conservatives have crowed for years that they have "won the war of ideas." More often than not, such boasts include a citation of Richard Weaver's famous dictum, "Ideas have consequences." A war of ideas, though, is not an intellectual process; it is a political process. As my colleague Leon Wieseltier has written, "[I]f you are chiefly interested in the consequences, then you are not chiefly interested in the ideas." The netroots, like most of the conservative movement, is interested in the consequences, not the ideas. The battle is being joined at last.

It's clear in that article that unlike us scruffy, instrumentalist blogofacists,(and our right wing dopplegangers) Chait believes The New Republic is all about those highminded ideas. I wonder if he would consider explaining what "idea"the following article is exploring:

Jenna vs. Chelsea
Who's the least virtuous first daughter?

For a long time, it seemed as if Jenna Bush's public image was pretty much summed up by her work on the club circuit. Back in 2005, the New York Post made mention of a party that included "Jenna on all fours doing 'the butt dance' ... as guys were ogling her thong." If the First Twin's choice of recreational activities wasn't entirely bad--for instance, the Post's source gave Jenna credit for "doing [the butt dance] very well"--then neither was it entirely good. By contrast, Chelsea Clinton learned the hard way about what can come of impromptu displays of thong and, so far, has covered her rear. It's no surprise that her Poise Count--the number of LexisNexis articles resulting from the word "poise" paired with her name--clocks in at 770, while Jenna trails at 144. Chelsea was the accomplished Stanford graduate living a quiet life in New York, while Jenna was the not-so-accomplished University of Texas graduate living a loud life in--well, wherever she happened to go drinking.

The butt dance, however, turned out to be the end of an era for Jenna. Shortly after the Post story, she began teaching at a public elementary school in Washington, D.C. She got engaged to a young conservative named Henry Hager, a former aide to Karl Rove. And she took a job as an intern for UNICEF and wrote a book called Ana's Story, a nicely rendered nonfiction account of the life of a 17-year-old Central American mother living with HIV. If it's all a calculated effort to re-tune the Jenna product, it has worked on me. In fact, the closer I look, the more I like Jenna. And, I regret to say, the less I like Chelsea.


... Blame The New York Times for planting the first unfriendly thoughts in my head. In an article published this July, the paper unkindly reminded readers that Chelsea, in the months after September 11, had written in Talk magazine that "'serving' in the broadest sense now seems like the only thing to do. ... Is banking what's important right now?" To which the Times not so gently pointed out that Chelsea's post-9/11 resume has consisted of stints as a McKinsey consultant and as an investment analyst at Avenue Capital, a hedge fund run by the nuns of Calcutta. Oh, sorry--make that Clinton donor Marc Lasry.

[...] all seems a bit--much. Quoth the Times: "Friends say financial independence is important to Ms. Clinton; she may improve on her low-six-figure McKinsey salary by hundreds of thousands of dollars." That's quite a declaration of financial independence.

And Chelsea didn't exactly spend her Oxford days tending to the world's unfortunates, either: Among the events she attended were a Versace couture show in Paris (sitting next to Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow), a ball thrown by Sir Elton John, and a film premiere with Paul McCartney. Nor did she join her British celebrity friends in visiting landmine amputees, unless the amputees happened to be holed up at Oscar de la Renta's Dominican villa. In New York, Chelsea has befriended celebrities like Tara Reid (who, to be fair, may actually qualify as a public service cause) and become a regular at establishments like Schiller's and Bungalow 8. In short, while Jenna has used her celebrity--at least in part--to help impoverished children, Chelsea has used her celebrity to get herself good tables at Nobu.

It goes on like that for an interminable length of time and ends with this:

Now, I'm sure many readers will complain that neither Jenna nor Chelsea deserves such scrutiny. But, like it or not, they're from families that have become dynasties. Bush and Clinton aren't just names anymore; they're brands. When Jenna gets sloshed and does the butt dance while others go to war, it hurts the Bush brand. When she interns with UNICEF, it helps the brand. When Chelsea holds hands with her parents while the family is immersed in scandal, it helps the Clinton brand. When Chelsea talks about service and then serves herself some hedge fund megabucks, it hurts the brand. And we care about the brand, because our political hopes often rest on its success or failure.

I don't know what to say. I think it's supposed to be funny, but I'm not actually sure. Is this some kind of "Borat" from another dimension thing and I'm just not hip enough to get the joke?

I guess obsessing on the daughters is the in thing among a certain crowd this week. This is from Andrew Romano at Newsweek:

[W]ho's the next Jenna Bush?

Before her recent makeover as an author, caring humanitarian and blushing bride-to-be, Jenna was our brash, boozy, barely legal hellraiser-in-chief. Sure, Stumper respects the difficult choices confronting America as it prepares to head to the polls. But sometimes the utterly insignificant stuff--like which candidate's daughter is most likely to replace our beloved Bush twin in the tabloids--is a lot more fun. Plus, the election is a year away. We'll have plenty of time to get heavy, people.

Here, then, are our exclusive rankings of eight potential Jenna 2.0's. The methodology was simple: read up on the contenders, compare their hijinks to Jenna's, then rate the lovely ladies of 2008 from one (unlike Jenna) to 10 (like Jenna) on our totally arbitrary Jennometer ®.

The writer evidently scoured the internet for every embarrassing tabloid item he could find and searched Facebook and Myspace for personal details about these girls and women. At one point he begs for "photos, folks. We need photos." (The good news is that he didn't seem to feel it necessary to see little six year old Sasha Obama in a miniskirt.)

I don't know, maybe I'm losing my sense of humor. But this puts these women and girls on the gossip menu and I just don't think that's necessary. Apparently the "first daughter" thing is some sort of sexual fantasy among a certain political geek type, but it's probably best to keep those immature thoughts among their beer drinking buddies (and in their pants) if they write for major magazines that pride themselves on intellectual rigor --- and news. I'm afraid it's kind of hard to take them seriously after baring their puerile ids like that for all to see.

In case they didn't know it, these young women are all real live humans, with feelings and everything. They didn't ask for notoriety --- their parents are public servants. What exactly have they done to be spoken of like they are all auditioning for these men's private "Girls Gone Wild" tape?

Certainly, nobody can truly believe that we vote for "brands" and because these women and girls share that "brand" they are answerable to the public? Surely great intellectuals who traffic in great, important "ideas" would never seriously believe such intellectual drivel as that, would they?

H/T to Bob