The Corner

The Cleavage Issue

I know that this week is devoted to singing Hillary’s praises as a candidate, but surely it is in the area of fundraising where her skill and discipline really shine. Over on Drudge there was a picture of the Senator in the pink jacket and fairly low cut black shell that she wore during a recent Senate debate, which occasioned Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan’s nasty, entertaining and ultimately legitimate column, asking what message Hillary was sending by displaying cleavage during work hours.

I overcame my desire to comment on this tempest earlier this week. But, now it turns out that every old feminist in journalism (starting with Ellen Goodman, naturally), has weighed in on the sexist, trivial, blah blah nature of said column. And what did Hillary do? Did she ignore the matter like the grown-up woman she seems to be? Of course not. She sent out a fundraising letter repeating the column’s charges and complaining about how base and trivial the coverage she gets is. She made sure that thousands more people would see the Cleavage Charge! That is so aggressive that it defies comment.  It also displays just a tiny bit of internal conflict about whether she wishes to be Leader of the Free World or a still attractive woman of a certain age.

As for the column itself, my own view is that, considering the efforts all candidates go to in creating their image, discussing what they wear and whether they display cleavage at work, or ever, in their quest to make the nation comfortable with the idea of them holding ultimate power is legit. (Even if one does not wish to be the journalist in charge of noticing such things.)

But let’s be real here. The fact is, Hillary was wearing a fairly low cut summer top. She was not displaying cleavage, as the shot on Drudge indicates. Someone else wearing the same outfit might have done. But Hillary Clinton does not have cleavage to display. Period. Indeed, Hillary never forgave her mother-in-law,  Virginia Kelly for pointing this out decades ago to the young Bill Clinton, a cleavage man if ever there was one.

Now, back to the serious policy debate. 


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