When does Bill Clinton approvingly cite George W. Bush? When he's talking about doing the "hand-off" at your daughter's wedding being proof "you've done what you're supposed to do." As Rebecca Traister points out, perhaps he should reconsider.
Traister nails what is somewhat distasteful about the media hubbub around Chelsea Clinton's wedding. It's not just that she has never chosen to make her personal life public. It's also the fairy tale narrative — part Ugly Duckling, all Disney princess — that presents a wedding as the "apotheosis of the human, the romantic or, more pointedly, the female experience," and Chelsea's in particular as her happy ending.
But Chelsea, who by all accounts has overcome the extreme circumstances of her upbringing — adolescence in the spotlight, John McCain making jokes about her being ugly, her father's infidelity with a woman not much older than her, to name only a few — to become a mature, smart, well-adjusted woman. She's now being reduced to a white dress, a walk down the aisle, and visible relief that she is not the gawky teen she once was. Traister writes, "That Chelsea has grown up gorgeous seems to have relieved a lot of people (though it's difficult not to wonder: What if she hadn't?)". She also says,
What about "handing off" your daughter to another man proves that you've done your work as a father? How does it demonstrate that you've done what you're supposed to do more vividly than watching your daughter graduate from college, make friends, live independently, land big jobs, develop and follow through on ambitions, help her mother run for president? When Bill later told People magazine that Chelsea's wedding would be "the biggest day in her life, probably," I'm sure he meant well, but I kind of wanted to throttle him. What about the days on which she might pick up her master's degree, run a company, have a child, win the presidency? What about the day, already past, on which she fell in love with her betrothed, surely as life-changing as the one on which they will make it legal?
Or, to cite yet another problem with our culture's biggest-day-ever Bridezilla obsession, what about each of the days in which they build their lives together, with or without the multimillion dollar party?