Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Van Meter’

Jonathan Van Meter, who chronicled Hillary Clinton’s August 2009 Africa trip for the December Vogue that year,  has now turned his attention to Chelsea whom he followed around for several months.  As usual, he has done an excellent job.  The September issue hits the stands next Tuesday,  August 21,  the same day the Condé Nast Traveller issue featuring Chelsea’s awesome mom also comes out.

I especially enjoyed the little segment below.  Until September 11, 2001 I was an avid Jeopardy viewer.  I was excellent.  My friends and I used to frequent a “Jeopardy Bar” after work from which the twin towers could be seen and from which you could be ejected while the show was on for speaking in anything other than the form of a relevant question.  I even beta-tested online Jeopardy.  But when regular broadcasting returned, and I think that was not until mid-February 2002 when finally the fire at “the pile” was extinguished,  I could not bear to go back to Jeopardy.  I don’t know why.  It felt empty and pointless.  Somehow,  I found Trading Spaces which felt like a constructive replacement.  I watched it faithfully for years until a certain Senator from New York threw her chapeau into the presidential race, and I switched to cable news.

Waiting in the Wings: An Exclusive Interview with Chelsea Clinton

by Jonathan Van Meter | photographed by Mario Testino

The private reception in the library’s restaurant, Forty Two, spills out onto a big deck that overlooks the sun setting on the Arkansas River. There are margaritas and Mexican food, and the whole affair takes on the air of a big family barbecue, with children running around, folks getting tipsy, and everyone going back for seconds. Chelsea is holding court with her friends, among them interior designer Ryan Lawson and Dan Baer, a deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State. Hillary is regaling them with stories. The conversation turns to the fact that Dorothy had a real knack for making a beautiful home, which then leads to the revelation that Hillary’s guilty pleasure, the thing she does when she really wants to take her mind off her work, is to sit with a big pile of interior-design magazines and flip through them. She also admits that she enjoys some of the reality shows on the subject. And then she says, “Chelsea, did I ever tell you about the first time I actually spoke to Lindsey Graham? He came up to me one day on the floor of the Senate and said, ‘Guess who called me?’ ‘Who?’ I said. ‘A producer from the television show Trading Spaces. They want you and I to trade places. What do you say?’ And I said, ‘I don’t think so!’ ” At that, she puts her finger to her dimpled cheek and exaggeratedly twists it a couple of times and then dramatically turns on her heel and saunters away. Everyone laughs while Chelsea convulses in a silent paroxysm of laughter and disbelief, with a look on her face that says, my mom!

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Well, it is a blog, and it is my blog, so I can decide if a blog review of a magazine article is appropriate, and I have decided that, yup, it is!

It is clear that Jonathan Van Meter jumped into this Vogue assignment, not from the Beltway, but from an environment alien to it, which gives his report a kind of authenticity and objectivity of perspective we have rarely seen in text about the Secretary. He is not familiar with any of the players, not even the press corps, so everyone becomes part of his story which comprises her August trip to Africa, a nearly two-week jaunt, and an entire day at the UN General Assembly in New York, but commences at the State Department for planning purposes.

Van Meter takes us through what must have been a harrowing  ten-day series of negotiations wherein Barack Obama used every persuasive gene to get Hillary to accept Secretary of State while Hillary used every creative gene to resist. We know how it ended. As Van Meter reports, he pushed the right button. With Hillary, the right button is the patriotic one. Obama found it, and soon Hillary was on what I like to call HillForce One, and before too long, so was Jonathan.

He takes us country to country – the ones we visited here in August – to meetings with heads of state and officials, to encounters with the people, and in Africa, Hillary’s encounters with the people tend far more frequently to be love fests (that were not reported here much) than volatile (over-reported back home).

To Hillary, he is Jonathan, and she mothers him (and others traveling with her). Despite all she is dealing with, she takes the time to pay attention to Jonathan, and I get the impression it is not simply because she wants a positive article. I say that because of his recount of the press reaction to Bill Clinton’s trip to North Korea to rescue Laura and Euna. They are a unit and furious that Bill is seizing her moment. That kind of loyalty is not for show, and there must be a foundation for it. I submit that she mothers everybody the way she did Jonathan. And they love her for it.

There are so many quotable paragraphs, and so many have already been posted (including here) on the interwebs that when I read the full article, I realized I had read most of it already. This is a tribute to both the writer and the subject. They were a perfect combination, and one of my most treasured articles ever about Hillary Clinton is the result.

A few items that deserve specific notice are the ones that hurt my heart: Hillary going swimming alone in the morning in Cape Verde, and Hillary wondering what people thought of her before they met her when they say she is “prettier in person.” Can I tell you how badly I wanted to hug her  and tell her how stunningly dazzling she is?

I am not a journalism professor (so obviously do not know what I am talking about), but if I were, I would give Jonathan’s lovely article Ralphie’s A++++++++++++++++++++ and so on, all around the room!

You can read the full article here. I (for one) will be buying my own hard copy keepsake.

And, Hillary,  we think you are beautiful!

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