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Chelsea Clinton and the lucky sperm club 

click to enlarge Chelsea Clinton image

The New York Times carried a glowing profile Sunday about Chelsea Clinton's decision to step fully from the shadows and seek a public life.

She's joined a corporate board, gotten a job as a correspondent for NBC and has her pick of gatherings of the mighty or simply important just about anywhere on the globe.

Reactions tended to fall along partisan lines. Fans of Bill and/or Hillary Clinton were happy for their 31-year-old daughter. Non-fans weren't impressed. She'd done nothing to deserve her good fortune except choose good parents, they said. The really ugly ones criticized everything from her hairstyle to her speech.

I'm not impartial on the subject. I've known Chelsea since she was an infant, though most of my exposure came before her move to Washington in junior high. She's remained friendly with my daughter and has been good to her. That's enough for me.

But Chelsea is smart and poised. She's worked hard at demanding schools and jobs. Would she be precisely where she is today without her famous parents? Of course not. She hasn't claimed otherwise. (I do like how often she credits her Grandmother Rodham for sage advice.)

But she now has made the important decision to accept inheritance of her parents' considerable public franchise. If nothing else, her growth in the larger public world might position her to someday take leadership of the Clinton Foundation. If she's lucky — if we're all lucky — she will continue to amass the resources her father has raised for fighting significant global problems. If she should decide to try politics, she's been homeschooled by the best and brightest.

Make no mistake. Chelsea Clinton is a one percenter, if not precisely in the net worth category, close enough. She is also, if you prefer, a lucky sperm club member. But she manages to send a signal that she understands how much of her stature is owed to her parents. She signals a generosity of spirit about her good fortune that is more reminiscent of a Buffett than a Koch.

We will always have the 1 percent. There's nothing inherently evil about being in that small number. The question is how much the 1 percent is willing to allow the 99 percent to share. And how much they understand on their sometimes inherited perches that it takes more than a non-union school teacher or sweat of manual toil to overcome childhood deprivation.

You need not be wealthy to be a lucky sperm. I've been awfully lucky. Grandparents on both sides went to college or professional (nursing) schools, despite roots as descendants of pea patch farmers, mule skinners and German immigrants. My parents were both college graduates, one thanks to night-shift work in a Boeing factory, the other thanks to the G.I. bill.

My mother worked, but she also helped start a pre-school program with a trained teacher for children of working parents. We had shelves full of books. College wasn't a question of if, but which.

My dad, a salesman, got some pleasure out of measuring his success by the size of his commission checks. But he knew life held other satisfactions — family, travel, history, the life stories of any and all he encountered. He also shared my love for newspapers. He had no complaint when I bypassed his business for a job in a field not known for its riches.

What a lucky sperm I was. Inheritances are measured by more than checking accounts.

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Speaking of Chelsea Clinton

  • Chelsea Clinton book talk set Sunday in Little Rock

    May 17, 2018
    Chelsea Clinton will talk about her book, "She Persisted Around the World," at a free public program at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Statehouse Convention Center. /more/
  • Chelsea Clinton to come to Little Rock for Clinton School talk

    April 23, 2018
    Chelsea Clinton will come to Little Rock Sunday, May 20, to talk about her new children's book, "She Persisted Around the World." It's a companion to her bestselling "She Persisted." The location is still to be determined. She'll be interviewed onstage and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre will do a reading of the book. /more/
  • Clinton defends plans for foundation, daughter's continued role

    September 20, 2016
    Former President Bill Clinton answers questions about whether something improper is suggested by Chelsea Clinton remaining on the board of the Clinton Foundation should her mother become president. /more/
  • Chelsea Clinton plans fund-raising stop in Little Rock

    March 29, 2016
    Chelsea Clinton will be in Little Rock next week to help raise money for her mother's run for president. /more/
  • Nonprofit watchdog removes Clinton Foundation from list

    December 29, 2015
    The nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator, which placed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation on its watchlist in March because of questions raised in the media about whether gifts to the foundation were made in hopes of a quid pro quo from Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state, has removed the foundation from the list, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. /more/
  • Chelsea Clinton visits her old stomping grounds

    September 18, 2015
    Chelsea Clinton is in Little Rock for a round of appearances today, including this morning at Mann Middle School, where she was a student when her parents relocated to Washington in 1993. She also was scheduled for a visit to the children's library named in her mother's honor and is expected to draw a big crowd to the Statehouse Convention Center tonight as the 1,000th speaker in the Clinton School of Public Service's lecture series. /more/
  • Legends of Arkansas Festival at Riverfront Park

    September 17, 2015
    Also: Chelsea Clinton at the Statehouse Convention Center, the Bo-Keys in the ACANSA Festival, Wynnona Judd, Black Tusk, Six Bridges Regatta and 'Days of Heaven' at Ron Robinson. /more/
  • Chelsea Clinton will be the 1,000th Clinton School speaker

    August 12, 2015
    Dean Skip Rutherford and public programs director Nikolai DiPippa promised earlier in the week that the Clinton School of Public Service would mark the 1,000th speaker series event with someone special: That someone, we learned today, is Chelsea Clinton. Chelsea will deliver a Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series talk at 6 p.m. Sept. 18 and will sign copies of her new book, “It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired, and Get Going.” /more/
  • Clinton Foundation circulates a defense

    March 2, 2015
    Reporting on contributions to the Clinton Foundation — both in media and driven by Republican research operations targeting Hillary Clinton's expected presidential candidacy — has drawn a reply from a Clinton spokesman in the form of some talking points circulated among supporters. /more/
  • The Clinton Library 10 years after

    October 26, 2014
    Tickets are now for sale on-line for events Nov. 14-16 celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Clinton Presidential Center. Events include a Verizon Arena concert with "special musical guests." /more/
  • More »

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