Chelsea Clinton Wedding Outrage

Should anyone care that Chelsea Clinton's wedding was ridiculously lavish?

Doug Ross‘ wife is apparently “really P.O.’d” at the weekend’s Chelsea Clinton wedding.   It was, “between $2 million and $5 million,” obscenely expensive. Mrs. Ross is outraged because:

  • They claim to be for the little people
  • Bill Clinton wanted everyone to donate for Haiti disaster relief, so why didn’t he give all this money to that effort?
  • They decry trickle down economics but claim this is stimulating the economy
  • The American economy is suffering, so ostentatious displays of wealth are unseemly
  • Jenna Bush’s wedding was much lower key
  • The media would be pointing all this out if it were Republicans

None of this makes sense to me. The Clintons are rich* and, so far as I know, paying for it themselves.

One can certainly advocate public policies that redistribute money to the poor and charitable giving to those harmed by natural disasters without committing to a life of monastic poverty.   Bill Hillary  Clinton never advocated selling all one’s worldly possessions for Haitian relief, merely skimming a little off the top.

I can see an argument for  cutting back on lavish government-financed activities when the economy is in the dumps.   When we’ve got 10 percent unemployment, maybe presidents and governors should tone down the pomp and circumstance.    But why should people who have money live as if they didn’t because others are doing poorly?

Indeed, we want just the opposite.  People who can afford to buy new cars, go out to dinner, and the like should be encouraged to do so.  That’s how you create jobs in a service economy.

But that’s “trickle down”!  Well, not really.   “Trickle down” was a straw man caricature of supply side economics, which had to do with the stimulative effects of tax cuts to business.   And really beside the point here.

So, for that matter, is the comparative styles of the Clintons and Bushes in staging weddings.  I prefer the latter, to be sure, but don’t begrudge the former.

____________
*The fact that the Clintons have gotten filthy, stinking rich off Bill’s career in public service is, by a wide margin, more of an outrage than anything on the list.  We’ve come a long way from the days when we needed to enact presidential pensions because Harry Truman was destitute in his retirement.  But the Clintons hardly invented cashing in.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    It’s pretty Amercian to (over)spend on weddings.
     
    Kinda disturbing that he’s a Goldman Sachs and Hedge Fund guy, though.
     
    Remember Bill’s quote … “I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope or as a .400 baseball hitter. But now I would like to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.”

    Maybe Chelsea listened to old dad.
     
     

  2. Evan Pokroy says:

    I think a great deal of the outrage comes from the left (read Democrats) demonization of the Republicans as Richies and Fat Cats. Their call for sacrifice if constant, and to soak the rich. Like the Global Warming hypocrites it is very irksome when their own people get a free pass for a lifestyle that they themselves excoriate on a regular basis.

  3. john personna says:

    Evan, I think you have to go pretty far left to find anyone who demonizes the generic “rich” or “fat cats.”  Either that or time-machine to the ’30s.
     
    Today Soros is a rich, fat cat, lefty, right?  Ted Turner?  Lots of guys like that …

  4. john personna says:

    Yikes, I was being generous in the first response.  I could have said “it’s a weak argument to make up un-named people who have said un-quoted things, and then to say you get to ‘their’ level.”
     
    You really do it with that global warming quote:
     
    “Like the Global Warming hypocrites it is very irksome when their own people get a free pass for a lifestyle that they themselves excoriate on a regular basis.”

    Who the heck are you quoting here?  Any actual person with any actual free-pass?
     

  5. James Weatherford says:

    All movies need a Villain (We the people)

  6. mike says:

    No – let them enjoy their wedding – Chelsea endured a lot of name calling and rough times in the public spotlight. Let her have her day. I am not personally a fan of lavish weddings but begrudge those who have them.

  7. mike says:

    meant to say DONT begrudge

  8. JKB says:

    Well, when your stock in trade is promoting the plunder of the productive class, it is only apropos that the ostentatious display of “royal” spending would result comment.  It should be noted that Bill did earn his money the old fashion way, by selling influence and connections.  Unless, of course, some undiscovered Whitewater type payoff matured for the big payday.
     
    As for an outrage, well, I guess that really should only apply to those who have or are expected to contribute toward Hillary’s campaign debt.  The rest of us should be sad that it has come so far that the plunderers aren’t even ashamed to displaying their booty.

  9. rodney dill says:

    I don’t understand the outrage. A lot of people with means have extravagant weddings. It does take away Bill and Hill’s ability to claim to be ‘the little people’, but that’s about it.
     
     

  10. john personna says:

    LOL JKB, I know how it goes.  35% maximum tax rate equals Republican fairness, 39.6% is plundering the rich.  Never mind the fact that Republicans still haven’t told us how they are going to cut costs to match that “fair” 35% tax rate.
     
    They are still campaigning on innumeracy.

  11. Michael says:

    Actually there is one Bush v. Clinton spending comparison you can make but it’s not about any Bush wedding. The Clintons apparently paid for this wedding on their own, correct? But George W. Bush had one of the most “obscenely expensive” inaugurations in our country’s history as the economy was sinking, unemployment was rising and we were in two wars, one of which was his choice! It wasn’t enough to pilfer the Federal budget through his corporate cronies, Bush had to deplete our economic resources by letting the Federal Gov’t. pay for his egotism.

  12. just me says:

    I think this is much ado over nothing.
    Is there anyone who was unaware that the Clinton’s were pulling in major money from book deals and speech fees?  I recall a big article not long after he left office about the enormous fees he collected for giving speeches.
    They have lots of money.
    They have one child.
    They spent a lavish amount of money on her wedding.
    Most parents do spend lavish amounts, it is just that lavish is relative to income.

  13. wr says:

    Why is this even a question? The only thing the right has now is outrage — and they’ve got to be outraged over everything their enemies — read: anyone who doesn’t hang teabags from his hat — does. Every minor trifle is a dread threat to the Constitution, even many articles from that document itself. Because as long as the Republican leaders can keep their moron followers constantly outraged, there’s no chance they’ll ever stop to think about who is really responsible for the problems in the country.

  14. Steve Plunk says:

    There’s not a great deal of outrage but certainly there’s no surprise either.  Regardless of their right to spend as they wish we also have the right to point out they really can’t feel our pain when living like true modern American royalty.  Not only money but power and influence.
     
    None of us on the right are losing sleep over this but we do chuckle and shake our heads when the aristocracy of the Left slums with the commoners on one day and then spends like this on the next.  Housewife Hillary and Bubba were never like common Americans as some believed.

  15. Dave Schuler says:

    I think it’s churlish to complain about how much the Clintons spent on their daughter’s wedding.  It’s their money and they can do with it what they wish.

     

    My sole quibble would be that I think it’s an outrage that the Clintons draw pensions from the federal coffers for their service in elective office.  I don’t think that any elected official at any level should be eligible for a pension (other than ordinary Social Security if they contributed) for that.

     

    But that’s small potatoes in the scheme of things for the Clintons.  They’d still be rich without the pensions and expense accounts and IMO are entitled to do whatever they care to with that money.

  16. James Joyner says:

    But George W. Bush had one of the most “obscenely expensive” inaugurations in our country’s history as the economy was sinking, unemployment was rising and we were in two wars, one of which was his choice!

    Inaugurations get progressively more expensive.  But they’ve been paid for with private — mostly corporate — donations for as long as I can remember.  Oh, and the economy wasn’t sinking in 2004.

  17. Wayne says:

    As long as it isn’t tax payer’s money I couldn’t care less. Secret Service that would be typical be assign to a former President would be fine. Although I don’t know if it is any longer true but at one time Chelsea had a Secret Service detail when no other President children did.  If so that would be wrong.

  18. Wayne says:

    Michael
    And what is your opinion on Obama’s inauguration which blew Bush’s out of the water in being expensive and which was actually during a sinking economy?

  19. john personna says:

    Oh, and the economy wasn’t sinking in 2004.

    No, but a good part of it was bubbled.

  20. just me says:

    <i> I don’t think that any elected official at any level should be eligible for a pension (other than ordinary Social Security if they contributed) for that.</I>

    I completely agree with this.  Drawing some kind of salary makes sense, I won’t even quibble about insurance, but I don’t think anyone who has been elected to office needs to have a taxpayer provided pension for life.  Especially since it is rare that an elected person doesn’t already have significant wealth and the ability to set up their own retirement if they need or want something more than social security.

  21. sam says:

    The rich are different than you and me.

  22. Michael says:

    Oh, and the economy wasn’t sinking in 2004.
    No, but a good part of it was bubbled.

     
    Everyone I know was hurting even then. Jobs were on their way down, The wars were taking over the budgets on everything. If you didn’t feel it then you probably were rich.

    Michael
    And what is your opinion on Obama’s inauguration which blew Bush’s out of the water in being expensive and which was actually during a sinking economy?

    I would say his was done with more private money, at least as advertised. I’d also say that I did disagree with it as well. He did however have those balls for poor kids or whatever? Still it was too lavish considering the time and from my (and the people I know) pov the economy wasn’t sinking. It was sunk.
     

    I completely agree with this.  Drawing some kind of salary makes sense, I won’t even quibble about insurance, but I don’t think anyone who has been elected to office needs to have a taxpayer provided pension for life.
    I’ll do you one better. Every single congressperson, the Prez and the VP should be out asking for pay cuts for themselves.Will it solve the deficit? No, but it’d be a good start. Every time I see some wingnut (Steve King,Mitch McConnell, John Boehner) block unemployment because of the deficit, or corporatist (Shumer, Harry Reid, Traitor Joe) cut food stamps now to satisfy GOPers who won’t vote with them anyway I think of how much those people are sucking out of the coffers and into their own personal wallets.
    Cutting their own pay would be great for their re-election campaigns, it would take effect almost immediately because it would take effect in the next congress and the next prez (or the second term for this one) would just have to tighten his belt.
     

  23. Drew says:

    I couldn’t give a rats ass how they spend their money, although in a contrast in values, I wouldn’t do what they are doing.  Its cheesy, but their choice.

    What I think is fascinating, and disappointing, is that the pop press has made this a cause celeb.  That’s the group Jame’s headline should have been focused on.

  24. Wayne says:

    Re “I would say his was done with more private money, at least as advertised”
    More total private money and more public expense as well.  At least you say something negative about Obama inauguration. However your tone is very different.
    “Bush had one of the most “obscenely expensive” inaugurations in our country’s history” compared to “I’d also say that I did disagree with it as well. He did however have those balls for poor kids or whatever?”
     Very condemning of Bush and apologetic for Obama.

  25. Michael says:

    At least you say something negative about Obama inauguration. However your tone is very different.
    “Bush had one of the most “obscenely expensive” inaugurations in our country’s history” compared to “I’d also say that I did disagree with it as well. He did however have those balls for poor kids or whatever?”
    Very condemning of Bush and apologetic for Obama.

    Well, that’s my fault I guess. I thought it was a serious question and not some sort of “gotcha” test. It’s clear no matter my answer it wasn’t going to satisfy you. Bush compared to Obama wasn’t even the point of the article but it was Bush compared to Clinton. All you need do is look up my posts on Huffpost or my tweets and you’d see right where I stand on Obama.
    Let’s be clear. I’m not a member of the Democratic party and rarely vote for them. I vote for Republicans even less. I am a liberal. A dyed in the wool, bleeding heart, peacenik liberal. The Dems are corporatists and the Republicans have been taken over by the extreme right wing nutjobs who wish to exchange Democracy with their own twisted Theocracy. I have no love for either but I don’t recall the Dems invading another country so their friends could have no bid contracts. Instead they just continue the policies of their Republican friends. If I had my way we’d have a 5 or 6 party system and neither of these two parties would have the say they do.

  26. Wayne says:

    Comparing a wedding and inaugurations is much more of a stretch than comparing inaugurations.
     I was just pointing out the difference in tones. Even for the first comparison, to be consistent you should have shown disdain for both extravagant spending or disdain for neither, something along the line as “Bush spent a good deal of money on his inaugurations” instead of “Bush had one of the most “obscenely expensive” inaugurations in our country’s history” or used Chelsea had an “obscenely expensive” wedding.
    Personally I don’t care which way but will point out if it is not consistent.

  27. Wanda says:

    Get over it! Who made you the wedding police? People can spend their money on whatever they want & it’s none of your business.  The problem is that you wish you had it! You jealous old bag!