Last week, South by Southwest—the hugely influential technology and music festival held in Austin every spring—announced its keynote speaker for 2014. The keynote speaker last year was Elon Musk, of PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors fame. Other South by Southwest keynotes in recent years have been given by a litany of cultural and business superstars including Mark Zuckerberg, Bruce Springsteen, and Twitter CEO Evan Williams. This year, though, organizers have selected Chelsea Clinton to keynote the event.
Without dredging up painfully awkward footage of her work as an NBC News correspondent, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Chelsea’s accomplishments begin and end with her parentage. Even Chelsea’s parents, who can be objectively said to have accomplished important things, tend to be wildly overpraised. National Review’s Jim Geraghty notes how ridiculous the undeserved laurels game has become:
If you are a key Democratic-party figure, you will be saluted and celebrated relentlessly, even in ways that are so off-base they’re ridiculous. Men’s Fitness named Barack Obama one of the 25 fittest men in America twice . . . while he was still a smoker. Hillary Clinton received 19 awards in the year after she left the State Department, including the Helen Keller Humanitarian Award, The Elton John Foundation’s Founders’ Award, and the Michael Kors Award for Outstanding Community Service. From 2005 to 2008, the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album went to Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama again. Really? Those were the single-best spoken word performances in the country four years running? Better than all those other nominees, like George Carlin, Steve Martin, Maya Angelou, Bob Newhart, David Sedaris?
Geraghty is right to be put off by this excess, but The Scrapbook has one quibble. He forgot to mention perhaps the most undeserving accolade of all time. Last June, the National Father’s Day Council presented Bill Clinton with an award for “Father of the Year” at a banquet in New York City.
We would also note that just last week, the former president accepted the Red Dress Award from Woman’s Day on behalf of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, presumably because receiving the Blue Dress Award in the name of his wife and daughter would have been especially awkward. If these unnecessary accolades don’t compound the irony and drive the point home, we don’t know what will.