Sunday, July 8, 2007

Throwing Stones

What is this Republican obsession with Democrats' hair?

First, it was Bill Clinton, who got a $400 haircut while his plane was parked on a runway in LA.

Then, there was John Kerry, who -- according to the always-reliable Matt Drudge -- flew his stylist into Pittsburgh at a cost of $1000. Other sources pegged it at $1500 -- or was it $15,000? The stylist himself later said he charged only $175. No matter: the takeaway was, Kerry was getting high-falutin' hairstyling at high-flying prices.

Now, we've got John Edwards, whose two $200 haircuts are being conflated by the press into one $400 haircut. (For those interested in the Freudian symbolism of airplanes, we are pleased to report that no aircraft appear to have been involved in this incident.)

What is UP with this? Are we supposed to believe that Mitt Romney entrusts his too-perfect mane to a $15 barber on the corner? That Rudy's new wife finally dragged him into the bathroom and personally got rid of his combover? That Fred Thompson packs a Flobee for quick touch-ups on the road?

Or are they somehow implying that men who get their hair cut are girlie-men? Well, that's a switch. I'm old enough to remember when conservatives lobbed the same insult at men who didn't get haircuts. Who says times don't change?

And do you ever wonder why we never hear this stuff about Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi? You know those women -- Laura Bush, too -- never go anywhere without a hairdresser and makeup artist in tow. Any sensible woman who lives in the public eye includes appearance-management people in their entourage -- it's either that or show up on national TV getting off the plane in Topeka with windblown hair, smeared mascara, and a run in your hose. And you know damn well the media's not going to overlook the chance to make that an issue. For these women, the investment in good grooming support is simply image insurance. And any reporter who made an issue of it would be written off by every A-list hostess in the country.

By now, we've heard this tiresome slander against Democratic male candidates so often that anyone who finds himself on the receiving end of it should probably take it as a compliment. After all, there's a clear pattern emerging here: They only throw it at candidates who are "manly men" in the classical sense -- the ones most likely to challenge the narrative of Democrats as wimps.

Big, generous, charismatic Clinton. Tall, stately warrior Kerry. And now scrappy, self-made Edwards. The entire psychological basis of the GOP begins and ends with its overheated masculinity fetish; but 90% of the men in that party can only wish they had half the cojones these three guys do. Say what you will about them as candidates; but when it comes to alpha, they're the real deal. And the Republicans, still stuck in psychosexual seventh grade, can only think up one comeback to being so clearly outclassed: Make fun of their hair.

On the other hand: Why is nobody talking about Bush's suits?

George Bush's suits are made by Oxxford Tailors of Austin, TX. The company's own website notes that the suits, entirely hand-made in over 165 steps, cost in the range of $2000 to $14,000 each. Bush has, well, quite a few. And even assuming he's only buying from the middling range, he still spends more on a suit than the average American working stiff spent to buy his car.

And while we're at it: let's talk about Laura's dresses. Last year, the MSM had a cute giggle over the fact that the First Lady arrived at a Kennedy Center gala wearing the same red gown that three other women were also wearing. Hee hee. Ha ha ha. How awkward. She went and changed into something else. Lost in the giggles was the fact that this dress -- one dress -- was an Oscar de la Renta "original" (how original can it be when three other people in the same town have it, too?) that cost $8500.

If they're going to talk about $200 haircuts, implying that somehow this makes our valiant Democratic candidates something less than men of the people, then -- in all fairness -- we need to be talking about $8000 suits and dresses, too. The average American family makes just over $40,000 a year with two adults working. To put it in perspective: that won't buy George and Laura enough outfits to get them through a week.

It's enough to make us miss those good old days of Pat Nixon's "good Republican cloth coat." Or those other, older days, when plutocrats with a penchant for excessive opulence found their heads under blades, rolling in baskets, and bobbing on pikes. Maybe if we point and giggle loud enough at this prissy obsession with clothes that cost more than a deluxe ER visit complete with ambulance escort, they'll figure out -- sooner or later -- that people who live in Armani suits shouldn't go around starting class wars.