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    I miss Margaret Thatcher

    Virginia Postrel writes that hyperventilating over Newsweek‘s Sarah Palin cover is pointless and more than a little hypocritical:

    I am generally bored by the hysteria, pro and con, that surrounds Sarah Palin. As a bona fide coastal elitist intellectual snob, I can’t see voting for her. But neither do I share the visceral hatred for her or her fans. (Megan McArdle dubs it Palinoia.) I consider her intelligent but ignorant and unworldly. I even liked her convention speech.

    That said, the flap over the Newsweek cover shot is as ridiculous as it is predictable. I’ve read enough comment threads over the years to know that conservatives regularly make a point of proudly declaring that their female icons are good looking compared to the old hags on the other side. When did they suddenly adopt politically correct second-wave feminist attitudes toward female beauty, even in the public sphere? 

    Like it or not, Sarah Palin’s good looks are a big part of her superwoman appeal: governor, earth mother, and sportswoman, with a pretty face and a great body despite all those pregnancies. Besides, I seem to recall some widely circulated topless beach shots of the current commander-in-chief. (Not to mention Condi Rice strutting in those great black boots.) There’s no double standard, except for the one that says if you have bad legs, we don’t want to see you in shorts.

    I don’t think the right has been complaining that the photo emphasizes her prettiness as much as that it presents her in a fluffy extracurricular-activities context and seems to have been chosen to undercut her as an emerging hard-policy force. It’s hard to imagine Newsweek using one of President Obama’s beach shots as a cover image the week his latest memoir is released. On the flip side, the famous photo of Condoleezza Rice actually emphasized her image as a power player with an serious edge. So while Virginia’s general point that both male and female politicians are sized up for looks is well taken, I’m not sure her examples are all parallel.

    Be that as it may, she’s right that Palin’s claque can’t expect to have it both ways. It’s fine if they want to swoon over her casual, man-pleasing, heartland femininity as a fresh alternative to the uptight-harpy lawyer persona that (the line of thinking goes) has overrun womanhood in the big, bad liberal cities. But then they’re hardly in a position to get all screechy when a major magazine fails to picture her in hard-nosed, dark-suit-and-pearls debate mode.

    2 Responses to “I miss Margaret Thatcher”

    1. Leslie says:

      When I saw the Newsweek cover I thought: Caribou Barbie!

      Sexist? Dunno. Belittling. No doubt.

    2. Sean says:

      I don’t see what’s inherently wrong with a good-looking politician’s posing for a cheesecake-y photo, though as I say, it’s hard to it always raises the risk that it can be used against her (or him) later.

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