If you’re a Drudge Report reader, you know that Matt’s top “story” right now is a picture of a wrinkly and bedraggled-looking Hillary Clinton, above the headline “THE TOLL OF A CAMPAIGN.”
What you may not know — I only recently learned it — is that the Drudge Report has become, at least in part, a Mitt Romney vehicle, courtesy of the Stormin’ Mormon’s senior communications strategist, Matt Rhoades, who is described as having a “direct line” to Drudge. I don’t know whether Romney and Rhoades have anything to do with today’s Hillary-bash, but it’s widely believed that Drudge’s recent anti-Huckabee headlines have been fed to him directly from the Romney camp.
But anyway, more interesting than the Romney angle, IMHO, is the sexism angle, which Ann Althouse tackles:
My first reaction to that picture is simple disbelief. How can she suddenly look that much older? I know Presidents age horribly in their few years in office, but she’s not President yet, and this seems to have happened overnight. Did some treatment wear off?
But here’s my second reaction, on reflection: We make high demands on women. A picture like this of a male candidate would barely register. Fred Thompson always looks this bad, and people seem to think he’s handsome. We need to get used to older women and get over the feeling that when women look old they are properly marginalized as “old ladies.” If women are to exercise great power, they will come into that power in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. We must Ã¢â‚¬â€ if we care about the advancement of women Ã¢â‚¬â€ accommodate our vision and see a face like this as mature, experienced, serious Ã¢â‚¬â€ the way we naturally and normally see men’s faces.
I think Althouse is right. As such, I disagree with Glenn Reynolds and particularly with his reader, Thomas S. Baker, who writes: “Remember all the media attention regarding John Kerry and his alleged botox injections?” I think that actually proves the point, rather than disproving it. Kerry didn’t get bad press for being wrinkly, ugly and old-looking; he got bad press for trying to improve his appearance, so that he would look smoother, more attractive and younger! His supposed use of Botox was seen as unmanly, and that’s why it was a big deal. (To an extent, the same is true of John Edwards’s $400 haircut, and that video.)
If Kerry had never used Botox, his wrinkliness never would have been a campaign issue, just as Fred Thompson’s isn’t. Glenn says “if Fred went from apparently smooth-skinned to wrinkly overnight, people would notice.” But let’s get real. The camera can make the same person look wonderful one minute and horrible the next, depending on camera angles, lighting conditions and so forth… not to mention how much makeup the candidate is wearing (and yes, the male candidates wear makeup, too). Point is, I’m sure there are plenty of unusually unflattering photos of male candidates sitting on various wire services’ cutting-room floors, never published, and certainly never the top “story” on Drudge. So this isn’t just a double-standard based on gender; it’s almost an opposite standard. Women are supposed to look young(-ish) and fashionable (but not too fashionable) and unwrinkled at all times. Men are supposed to project an aura of not caring about their appearance at all — beyond looking “presidential,” of course, whatever the heck that means (and wrinkles probably help in that department).