If I am not mistaken, John Kennedy, Jr. was the last boy to live in the White House. Since then we have had the Johnson Daughters, Nixon girls, Amy Carter, Chelsea Clinton, the Bush twins, and the Obama girls. One could also count Margaret Truman who did live in the White House even though she was in her twenties. I have to say, that all of the first daughters have done pretty well for themselves.
Lynda Johnson married Charles Robb, a Marine she met while he was assigned to the White House. Lynda once told some of us that she never thought she was marrying another politician. She assumed that Chuck would be a career Marine. [I had the pleasure of working for Governor Robb and knew Mrs. Robb from her work with the Virginia Commission of the Status of Women of which I was a member.] Tricia Nixon and Luci Johnson opted for quieter lives. Julie Nixon married an Eisenhower.
Gail Collins has an interesting column in today’s New York Times on the almost eve of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.
This is hard, let me tell you,” said Hillary Clinton.She was referring to preparations for her daughter’s big day, not high-stakes diplomacy. Although the two might be connected. Maybe the North Koreans threatened to nuke the American-South Korean war games because they thought our country would be easy to bulldoze while the secretary of state was laboring under the stress of wedding planning.
“I was one of those brides of our vintage,” Clinton told me a while back. We are of the same generation, and during her presidential campaign she once said that she was always happy to see me because at least there would be somebody her age on the press plane.
“We agreed to get married one weekend, got married the next weekend,” Clinton reminisced.
Chelsea is definitely going in a different direction. The estimates of the cost of her wedding have all been coming from people who aren’t actually involved in it, but if they get any more grandiose, we will have stories on Fox News about how the ceremony cost more than the national budget of Burundi.
Let her have her day. She’s due. Chelsea has been a national public figure against her will since she was 12, and in all that time she has never embarrassed her family — or us. Before she went off to Columbia to study public health policy, she worked for a New York management consulting firm and a hedge fund where her colleagues unanimously (and off-the-recordly) reported that she was a stupendously hard worker. She recognized early on that when celebrity is thrust on you, the trick is to learn to do something besides being famous.
(Talking to you, Bristol.)
Caroline Kennedy married a non political man just as Chelsea seems to be doing. But Caroline made an abortive attempt to enter politics as New York Senator, has been campaigning for Obama and may yet have a political future. Her brother died much too young but I think everyone thought he was planning on entering politics. It is too early to tell about Chelsea’s political future.
Collins talks about Amy Carter
I always had a feeling that Amy Carter, who was sent to public school in Washington amid a crush of publicity, did not love the experience.But she seemed to be happy at her own wedding in 1996 in the yard of her late grandmother’s house, cutting a wedding cake she had baked herself. The bride wore an embroidered dress from the 1920s. The groom, a computer consultant, wore a ponytail. Her father did not give her away because, as Jimmy Carter told the press, “Amy said she didn’t belong to anyone.”
The Bush twins also turned out well.
Jenna Bush had a few unfortunate brushes with the law during her White House years. But it was nothing that couldn’t have been avoided if the legal drinking age in Texas had been 18. Anyway, she seems to have turned out great. After graduation, she worked for Unicef, taught at an inner-city public school in Washington and wrote a book about a young woman with AIDS in Latin America. She is now a reading coordinator at a school in Baltimore and makes occasional reports on education for “Today.”
Her sister, Barbara, worked at a hospital in South Africa, did educational programming for a museum and now leads a Peace Corps-type organization called Global Health Corps. The twins are only 28, but they already seem to have racked up more good works than Mother Teresa.
Happy wedding, Chelsea. Excellent job, Bush twins. Good luck, Amy Carter, wherever you are. We are pleased to be a country that produced such nice young adults out of such a lunatic political environment.
Amen. And good luck to the Obama girls. I’m sure they will turn out just as well as the other First Daughters.