Sunday, October 26, 2008

And now Dowd comparing Palin to Eliza Doolittle

Of course we knew Maureen Dowd would weigh in on the latest Palin controversy. Here is her column, "A Makeover with an Ugly Gloss." Dowd's main point is Palin's hypocrisy, which is at least somewhat fair given how Palin has played up her midde-class, hockey-mom, "I'm like you" credentials. Here's an excerpt from Dowd's column:

McCain advisers have been scathing about the “sexism” of critics who dismiss Sarah Palin as Caribou Barbie.

How odd then, to learn that McCain advisers have been treating their own vice presidential candidate like Valentino Barbie, dressing her up in fancy clothes and endlessly playing with her hair.
* * *

The Republicans’ attempt to make the case that Barack Obama is hoity-toity and they’re hoi polloi has fallen under the sheer weight of the stunning numbers.

Dowd goes on to provide in extraordinary detail information about the McCains' wealth and about how much money in clothing and jewelry Cindy McCain was wearing at the Republican National Convention -- something in the neighborhood of $300K.

On the other hand, as I suggested a few days ago here, I'm not sure that it's all so clear-cut. As illustrated by Hillary Clinton, as well as Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain, the attention to the appearances of these women who are in the political spotlight seems to me almost unbearable. What the RNC did--with Palin's complicity, of course--reflects a harsh reality for women, which was the topic of an earlier post. As women age -- and Palin is all of 44!-- they are even more likely to be discriminated against if they don't continue to look young. In short, several factors would have made it difficult for Palin to stand up to the RNC and ask for Wal-Mart clothes and her old Wasilla hairdresser on the campaign trail-- assuming, of course, that's what she really wanted.

But there is yet another angle on Palin's makeover. As a downhome kind of gal with an accent myself, I was fascinated by this tidbit from Dowd's column. The McCain campaign hired a former actress to be Palin's voice coach for the convention. I have written here about the folksy way in which Palin expresses herself, arguing that it should not be held against her. But apparently even the RNC was holding it against her! No wonder Palin has recently been breaking free of her handlers, as covered here. She may be enjoying the new duds, hair and make-up, but all of that handling (and molding and shaping) must be very confining and, ultimately, annoying -- especially for a self-styled maverick like Palin.

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