During Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, Chelsea Clinton emerged as an articulate spokesperson for her mother. Answering questions no one would want to touch about everything from Monica Lewinsky to whether she thought her mother would be a better president than her father was (she did) she was sincere, sharp and popular as a stump speaker for her mother’s 2008 quest for the White House. When her mother made her internet announcement speech declaring that she was “in to win” the presidency, observant viewers noticed the framed photographs of a younger Chelsea in the background of Hillary Clinton’s beautifully appointed Georgetown home. A more vibrant portrait of Chelsea Clinton emerged as her mother’s campaign progressed. When her mother won the Pennsylvania primary by a double-digit victory, her only child’s eyes welled with tears of joy. And before her mother’s star-turn at the Democratic National Convention in August, 2008, Chelsea Clinton’s voice narrated the moving biographical tribute video. Exuberantly she said: “Ladies and gentlemen, I am very proud to introduce my mother and my hero, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton!”
On February 27th Chelsea Clinton turns thirty. Could she be the next Clinton in the political pipeline? Her entire life she has functioned as a witness to her parents’ commitment to raising their only child well. She was off limits to the press during her White House years. Her most notable moment a visual one when she served as the human glue that kept her parents together as the three of them walked to a plane in the fallout over the Monica Lewinsky affair.
She has earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, holds a job and is engaged to be married. Chelsea Clinton is, no doubt, a full-fledged adult. While she will always be the daughter of the most notable political husband and wife team in American history, this birthday may signal the end of representing her family and the beginning of Chelsea Clinton speaking for herself. Like the Kennedy children, there is the legacy, of course–the ceremonial events that she will preside over for many years to come– but her way in the world from now on, will likely be of her own design.