I have to admit that I am not as offended by reporting on what Rep. Michele Bachmann wore for her formal presidential announcement yesterday as my esteemed colleague Karin Agness.
Indeed I found myself thinking, as I watched, about how well-turned out Bachmann was and comparing her to Maggie Thatcher, who always looked like a million dollars while pulling Great Britain back from the edge of the abyss.
I’ll admit that we don’t focus as much on the apparel of male politicians, though it sticks in my mind that President Obama has worn Hart Schaffner Marx on several occasions. We can also remember that John F. Kennedy’s preference for going hatless killed business for manufacturers of hats for men.
But, yes, women get more scrutiny of their duds. I would argue that this is natural and that we shouldn’t get huffy about it–it doesn’t detract from Bachmann’s intellectuality. If anything, if members of the media get hung up on her clothes to the exclusion of real issues (i.e., her opinions about taxes), Bachmann becomes a kind of stealth candidate, able to wow us with her brilliance all the more because the press is obsessing about her triple-strand pearl necklace and matching stud earnings. Slowly, it will dawn on them that she’s a demon on on marginal tax rates.
A nasty piece in the left-wing Guardian noted that people in England rarely commented on Thatcher’s clothes because they were too indignant about what she was doing.
I submit that, were Michele Bachman to become president, an apoplectic left would never again notice what she wore. They would be busy saying she was trying to shove Granny off a cliff, starve babies, or whatever absurd meme they would adopt.
But I’d hope that Madame President still looked nice.