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Chelsea Clinton wants 'purposely public' life. Politics?

In Rwanda, Chelsea Clinton offers yet another hint of her political plans: She's not considering a run for public office, unless she 'didn't like how my city or state or country were being run.'

By Staff writer / August 6, 2013

Chelsea Clinton introduces her father, former President Bill Clinton, as he is named 'Father of the Year' by the nonprofit National Father's Day Council at a fundraiser lunch in New York on June 11. Ms. Clinton says she is interested in public life.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters/File

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WASHINGTON

Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton said on Monday that she’s decided to live a more “purposely public life,” after years of avoiding the glare of publicity as much as possible.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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In an interview with CNN in Rwanda, where she’s doing humanitarian work with her family’s foundation, Ms. Clinton made clear she’s not contemplating a run for political office. She talked instead about “changing market dynamics” in underdeveloped nations and the need to continue to fight to improve the lives of underprivileged children. She sounded as if she were contemplating a more visible role in nonprofit, do-good initiatives.

Well, maybe she’s just not contemplating a run for office at the moment. She said she’s happy to be living in a city (New York), state (New York, duh) and country “where I really believe in my elected officials, their ethos and their competencies." But she added that “someday, if either of those weren’t true, and I thought I could make more of a difference in the public sector, or if I didn’t like how my city or state or country were being run, I’d have to ask and answer that [running for office] question."

Let the wild speculation begin! Chelsea’s going to run for mayor when Anthony Weiner drops out! She’s going to run for Senate when Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) of New York is appointed Secretary of Publicity in the Hillary Clinton administration! She’s going to run for the White House in 2020 against the incumbent Republican, President Rubio!

OK, we have some actual thoughts on this matter, though.

The first is that Chelsea, in political terms, is not her father’s daughter. She is more like her mother. Would the young Arkansas politician Bill Clinton have talked about “ethos and competencies”? No, we don’t think so either. That sounds like Hillary. Also, by the time he was Chelsea’s current age, which is 33, Bill was already governor. He was president at 46, if you forget. It’s too late for Chelsea to be that sort of wunderkind.

Second, a corollary: It doesn’t look like she’s burning for office or a campaign. Like her mother, she might work her way up from the inside and start from relative heights. She sounded a bit as if she might answer the call if New York Democrats get into a bind about a candidate for higher office. But City Council? Don’t hold your breath.

Third, it all depends on 2016. If her mom runs for president and wins, her future will veer sharply into directions it’s hard to predict today. But if her mom doesn’t run, or if she loses, suddenly Chelsea will be the face of a new generation.

That’s already happened with Republicans, a bit. Liz Cheney is running for Senate in Wyoming, after all. The next generation of Bushes is starting to make noises about public office.

Dynasties: They’re not just for Great Britain.

“Laugh all you want at the royal baby, Americans who will one day vote for Sens. Liz Cheney, Beau Biden, Chelsea Clinton, and George P. Bush,” tweeted Politico senior political reporter Alex Burns late last month.

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