Try as I might, I cannot avoid the inevitable topic that, every 4 years, becomes the dictator of the media, water cooler conversations, magazine covers, and pillow talk all across the USA! USA! USA! Presidential election season is upon us again. But you can take comfort in the fact that I will try to keep this as objective as an election conversation can be. I’m not here to force my un-groomed and less-than-educated political views upon you; I’ll leave that to the professionals. I couldn’t help but write about the topic because how can I possibly analyze the state of our 9/8/08 culture and ignore the baby-kissing presidential beast that has taken over our culture right now? So I’m going to take a lighter, more superficial, approach to the race. Someone has to. Sometimes we need a distraction from the exhausting debates over baby’s mama’s drama, sexism, patriotism, and the population of Alaska. So I am here to discuss the ladies.
When Michelle Obama burst onto the political field a few months ago, she was an outspoken, successful, frank woman first. She was Barak’s wife second. I knew about her Harvard degree and career progression before I knew that she was the mother of two (beautiful and microphone-loving) daughters. Some people that still believe in the sanctity of politicians were dumbfounded by her forthrightness in discussing Barak’s trail of dirty socks (How can he allow her to reveal such behavior! A presidential nominee would NEVER divulge such character flaws!). But the rest of us could relate to the playful banter with our significant others. I’m no worshipper of the house of Doc when talking about him. I’ll joke with my friends about his scruffy nomad beard for the sake of relatability. The outspoken woman is sexy. The outspoken woman is not a woman to be dismissed as a simple pillow-fluffer at the end of the day. The outspoken woman is the backbone and down to earth character that a politician needs to keep things real and fist-tap for support.
But that was then. Months on the campaign trail. Months of criticism over her “anti-American” style. Months of worried campaign managers hoping to avoid another Hillary, pulling Bill’s puppet strings from inside the White House. Who was really in control here? We don’t want a submissive president. So now, watching her speech at the DNC, I see her subsiding into her Jackie O dresses and supportive smiles. Talks of her daughters, family, and her husband. The candid banter of “Barak – He’s just like us!” gone. So where did she go?
I will be honest in saying that I know less about Cindy McCain, partly because my interest leans towards the Obama’s and partly because the woman is so severe looking I have trouble getting past the tight librarian bun and paycheck. She looks so tightly wound and pursed-lipped that I had trouble see her lack of personality as a threat to the White House. But seeing her at the RNC the night of McCain speech, with her hair down, a small smile on her face, even I saw some semblance of pride in how her life brought her to that moment. But that moment of awareness was gone as soon as it came, blinded by talks of her $300,000 getup and private plane. But where did the librarian bun go?
And now there is Sarah Palin. I can’t seem to stop reading about her background and family. I am drawn to her story and I cannot figure out why. My question for her fresh face is where did she come from?
The trend here is the entrance of the woman into the political playing field. Three women are under the torturous microscope of the media and America (mostly because of the media). Hillary, the trailblazer, was the first sign that it is time Washington gave some attention to the political woman. The importance of the first lady has become almost comparable to the importance of the president himself. Hillary showed that the first lady cannot be overlooked, because she may someday be the one you are voting for. It is a new frontier for women in politics and there must be an appealing image to wrangle in the votes, because lets not forget that this is still a political race and it’s all about the votes. Men have had hundreds of years to evolve their persona into what they know Americans can look up to and are comfortable with and are generally willing to let lose on the world as the face of our nation. Navy blue suit, red tie, good orator, uses words like “change” and “hope”, wears an American flag pin. Now the women are at the beginning of their evolution into what America will trust. Michelle came out of the gate a little too strong, Cindy came out with her bun a little too tight. Both are working towards a middle ground. Because who knows which one of them could be next.
So now the transformation from hockey mom to vice presidential nominee for Sarah Palin will begin. What middle ground will she have to conform to? Only time and debates and Karl Roves growling monologues will tell.