Did Nancy Pelosi get much coverage last weekend for her trip to Iraq? Hardly any at all. Why? Simple. Because Hillary was in Iowa the same weekend, and so she, as usual, captured all the Woman on the Verge of Breaking through the Marble Ceiling coverage. Nancy couldn’t have been too pleased. But in our 24/7 news world, the first woman Speaker has already become a bit “been there, done that.” Now the “Can a woman be president?” story has legs, and will have legs, any news day of the week for the next year.
And it was, let’s admit it, a good weekend for Hill. Notice she ditched the black pant suit of Chappaqua to look pretty in pink in Cedar Rapids. Yes, I know, Hillary complained to a crowd of Iowans how the press makes too much of her clothes and her hair. But how can we help it? Unlike Nancy, who seems to stay true to chic big-ticket Armanis no matter what, Hillary’s clothes are a lot more like costumes. She always dresses for the image she wants to project and for her audience. She looked especially dowdy at the State of the Union to distance herself — purposely, I thought — from Nancy-in-sea-foam-green.
In the Midwest , Hillary told them she was really, really, really a Midwestern girl, and she made sure she looked it. Yet I will refrain from casting aspersions on the style sense of Iowans, even if a reporter from the Cedar Rapids Gazette just couldn’t resist some digs at Hillary’s constituents. Mike Hlas wrote in his column in the Gazette, which is posted on the Hillary for President website, that the living room in which she spoke was “as stuffed as one of the New York City subways serving Clinton’s constituents during rush hour. Except…that the room’s decor was far more inviting and its inhabitants were better-dressed. And, those who enjoy a little vino on the subway seldom have the use of nice wine glasses.” Real sharp for Cedar Rapids. Hlas also noted that the house next door had eleven signs in the front yard saying, “We stand with Bush and the troops,” something much of the national press seemed to ignore.
Throughout her Iowa weekend the down-home milkshake-drinking Hillary was on display. According to the Des Moines Register she broke though the “media veneer” — to which, I assume, the Des Moines Register believes it does not contribute — and “let her personality show.” At least her pretty-in-pink personality.
She was a Mom, and a touch of a “you go, girl” feminist, in Des Moines. She talked tougher about Bush in Davenport and dropped her “bad, evil men” line in Cedar Rapids. (By the way, according to her former press secretary Lisa Caputo, the “bad evil men” she was referring to are, in fact, Ken Starr, Newt Gingrich, and George W. Bush. Fooled ya!)
All the while she cleverly both emphasized and de-emphasized the “Can a woman be president?” question. She told Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsin, “I’m not running as a woman but I’m proud to be one. I want people to vote for me on my merits but that includes who I am as a person. … There’s lot of excitement and eagerness to be part of a campaign to elect the first woman president. I sense that. I’m getting so much feedback from people all over. I had a man at the airport say to me, I’m so glad you are doing this because I have two daughters.”
Oh, self-sacrificing Hillary, wanting to become the most important person in the world not for herself, but for the little girls of America. Yes, she was, as they say in Iowa, pretty darn slick — and it was only her first weekend out.
Let’s face it: Hillary is a celebrity, and she will be covered by the media not as a politician, or as a candidate, but as a celebrity. That is her enormous advantage in our celebrity-culture with a celebrity-obsessed media. It also is her greatest risk, but this is the woman who can never be underestimated, and she has started strong.
Wonder what she’ll wear her first weekend in New Hampshire? A ski sweater? Earthy tones? Boots? And Nancy, if you were planning any high-profile trips, when Hillary is out campaigning, forget it. When she is making headlines, you’re better off doing what Hillary says she does when she needs to relax: Clean closets.
— 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.