My piece “Sarah Style,” pointing out that the former Miss Wasilla had remarkable self-confidence about the clothes she wore, appealed to some but also got me some nasty comments. The critics seemed to feel that it was too frivolous and somehow demeaning to write about the way a female candidate dresses. And that Palin, because she seems to care about how she looks, is not serious enough. As one critic snipped, “What are you going to do next? Give us her mooseburger recipe?”
No, but don’t you wish you knew it?
In this television age, how one looks is vitally important. Yes, I know the RNC has been paying some bills for her flattering outfits. That’s the current Palin newsflash. And hasn’t it been alleged that Joe Biden had hair transplants and a bit of Botox to spruce him up? Can you imagine the enormous clatter if some liberal blogger had discovered Palin had some work done? (She hasn’t.)
But good looks count. Wasn’t part of Obama’s debate appeal his tall, slim, youthful appearance? Isn’t one of John McCain’s problems that he is old and looks older? And I doubt those who dislike Palin would like her any better if she wasn’t so attractive.
In fact, I am fascinated by how some women hate Palin so intensely. I think of Madonna shouting curses at her at concerts, or the really nasty comments on some female websites. It is not only because they disagree with her ideas or policies. It isn’t even because they think she is not capable or experienced enough to be president. My friend Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal thinks it is partly because she appears to be a genuinely happy woman. She is enthusiastic about the opportunities that being an American woman has given her. She does not complain about her lot in life. For a long time now, many politicians, as well as female-focused media outlets, have been telling women they are victims. But Palin never acts like a victim nor talks about all women as victims, even though she so obviously has faced challenges in her family life.
I think one of Palin’s strongest moments in the campaign was during the VP debate, when she discussed the current financial crisis. Yes, she cited greed on Wall Street, but she also talked about Americans about having to take more personal responsibility in the future. I think she is the only candidate to mention that those who bought houses they couldn’t afford deserve some of the blame. Frankly, I wish we were hearing more of her realistic assessments and her honesty about future policies.
Palin is, in a way, almost a throwback to that resilient American woman of our past, who could look at her life without self-pity and with good cheer and just get on with it. Women who like her recognize this and see great value and wisdom in such an attitude. Women who don’t are not simply offended by her; they are genuinely threatened.
– Myrna Blyth, long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness — and Liberalism — to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.