Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Sublime Symmetry of Chelsea and Marc


(image via people)

There is something quite lovely -- and here we are not being ironic -- about the rekindling of the childhood flame between Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky in New York at the onset of Spring. His mother, the one-term Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky -- "3M" as she was called on Phildephia's Main Line -- lost her seat out of extreme loyalty to then-President Bill Clinton. She won a narrow 50.3 percent victory in a conservative Philadelphia district, but voted for Bill Clinton's Omnibus Budget Reconcilliation Act of 1993 bill. Depending on what your economic philosophy is, this was either a deficit reduction bill, or a tax increase bill. Mezvinsky, already weak, heroically backed Bill Clinton against her political self-interest. From Businessweek:

"Clinton was working the phones steadily now, trying to round up votes that only a direct call from the president could bring. Early on, the House's hardnosed vote counters complained that Clinton would call members only reluctantly and then engage them in a sort of Socratic dialogue that ended without his directly asking for their vote. 'He was not enthused about making a lot of phone calls to people originally,' said a senior Democrat. 'Then when he started to do them, he'd spend 15, 20 minutes on a call to someone, and then he wouldn't close the deal.' But now that they were down to the wire, Clinton was at last getting tough and direct. When he called Williams that afternoon, Clinton got right to the point: 'Pat, I need you on this,' Clinton said. 'It will not pass without your vote. My presidency is at stake.'"

"With time running out, the yeses would not move above 212--a stubborn six votes from the 218 they needed. Majority Leader Gephardt was deeply worried. 'I was the one in the leadership who was saying, we've really got a problem here. I mean, this thing well may not pass,' he said.

"... The chamber was in pandemonium.

".. Margolies-Mezvinsky was waiting 30 feet away next to the vote computer on the Democratic side of chamber, where nervous members and aides were anxiously watching the vote count. To anyone looking down from the spectators' galleries high above the floor, Margolies-Mezvinsky was instantly noticeable. Around her, people swirled in constant motion, conferring, shouting, grabbing arms and yelling in each others' ears. She alone seemed to stand stock still, her face ghost-like, her eyes wide and fixed in the middle distance, contemplating what must have seemed like the imminent end of her short career as a House member. Foley walked up and told her they needed her vote. Barely glancing at him, she hesitated and then began to walk slowly down the aisle toward the well. She had the look of someone on the way to her own hanging. A Democrat handed her the green card she would need to vote yes. She joined Williams at the desk at the foot of the Speaker's dais. Williams signed his card and handed it in and, finally, agonizingly slowly, Margolies-Mezvinsky did the same.

"After a few seconds' delay, the orange lights displaying the vote total blinked out the changes: from 216-216 to 217-216 and finally to 218-216. It was over. Cheers swelled from the Democratic side of the chamber. Republicans hooted derisively. 'Goodbye, Marjorie,' they shouted, pantomiming extravagant goodbye gestures. Margolies-Mezvinsky was in tears. Michigan Democrat Sander Levin kissed her on the cheek and gently guided her off the floor into a small holding area called the Red Room, where California Democrat Anna Eshoo comforted her. (Bill) Richardson came hustling in and thanked her for her vote. 'But I may have lost my seat,' she protested, choking back tears."

Unfortunately Mezvinsky did lose her seat. In the meantime she has served her country as director and deputy chair of the United States delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women and is presently chair of the Women's Campaign International.

And, in perfect symmetry, the children of Clinton and Mezvinsky are in love.

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