No vision of loveliness himself, Rush Limbaugh played the looks card when he wondered aloud if Americans would be willing to see a woman president age ungracefully over the course of her term(s).
“We know that the presidency ages the occupants of that office rapidly. You go back and look at… Well, you can’t use Clinton because he dyed his hair based on the audience he was speaking to, but take a look some pictures of Bush in 2000, when he was campaigning, or 2001 when he was inaugurated. Take a look at him now. Just been eight years. The difference is stark. He’s kept himself in good shape and so forth, but you can say that this is a sad, unfortunate thing. But men aging makes them look more authoritative, accomplished, distinguished. Sadly, it’s not that way for women, and they will tell you. (interruption)…I’m just giving an honest assessment here of American culture. Look at all of the evidence. I mean, I’ve just barely scratched the surface with some of the evidence, and so: Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis? And that woman, by the way, is not going to want to look like she’s getting older, because it will impact poll numbers. It will impact perceptions. In politics, perceptions are reality. So there will have to be steps taken to avoid the appearance of aging. You know, politics is not for sissies… and being president ages men faster than normal. I think this is one of the intangibles. And another thing, by the way: How many times have you said in your adult life, you’ve had a candidate for president or some office that you really like, but just doesn’t come off well on television. Just for some reason, television doesn’t complement this person. I’ve often reminded you that politics is “showbiz for the ugly,” and it is.
Let me give you a picture, just to think about. I’m not even going to answer the question for you, just want you to think about this. The campaign is Mitt Romney versus Hillary Clinton in our quest in this country for visual perfection, hmm?”
I am no Limbaugh fan but he does have a point about our beauty obsessed country and how women are held to a different standard. And for those, like the hosts of The View, who this morning scoffed at such a notion and gave a list of former female heads of states, like Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and India’s Indira Ghandi as non beauties who have held their own on the world stage, neglected to note that the women mentioned are not American. We are a country that wants, needs everything nipped and tucked if we are not so genetically blessed. We must even have our most private parts “rejuvenated”. (Oh yeah. We’ve have officially gone there –down there.)
Much is made of all of the candidates’ looks. We have two pretty boys in John Edwards and Mitt Romney. They are perceived as being almost too good looking — men who spend too much time in the mirror and too little time doing any heavy lifting. As for Barack Obama, he has been called “rock star” — handsome and charismatic. Comparisons have been made to another looker who occupied the White House – John F. Kennedy. At 70, John McCain is considered by some to be “too old” and Dennis Kucinich, too short, to win the ultimate contest.
Shamefully, I must admit that I do make note of Clinton’s appearance — her broad hips and pear shaped figure and wish that she’d tighten up a bit — nothing too drastic, just a few hours a week in the gym. But who am I to hold her to such a high standard? I am certainly not turning back the hands of time myself. But unlike me, she spends an inordinate time in front of the camera and we expect anyone who appears on television to look as close to “perfect” as possible.
Fair? Hardly. Welcome to 21st century politics. Are you ready for your extreme close up Hillary?