Republicans Are Not Just on Fire, They're Smokin'

Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose tirade against the Bar exam briefly became my mantra about 3 months ago, just wrote an interesting piece for The Atlantic (formerly the Atlantic Monthly). Wurtzel is an off-the-deep-end liberal, but a hell of a great writer, and I'm not partisan when it comes to wordsmithing. Her newest article makes the point that Sarah Palin, love her or hate her, is popular because she's hot.  That's it.  And Palin is illustrative of a larger trend in the political community: the Republicans bring more babes to the party.

Wurtzel writes, 
The Democrats are total morons for not finding their own hot mama before the Republicans did so first, or maybe I should have left off the qualifiers and called it straight: the Democrats are just plain morons, at least where women are concerned.  The right wing, for whatever weird reason, has been much more receptive to outrageous and attractive female commentators who are varying degrees of insane or inane, but in any case are given a platform on Fox News and at their conservative confabs.  Look at how great life has been for Megyn Kelly and Laura Ingraham and the assorted lesser lights.  But there are no Democratic blondes, no riot grrrls on the progressive side of politics, no fun and fabulous women in the liberal scene who could pave the way for a Palin. 
Megyn Kelly looking hot.  She's a lawyer, too!
There are lots of conclusions that can be drawn from Wurtzel's observation: that Republicans are more comfortable with standard notions of "attractiveness” and not caught up in redefining beauty and body image like Liberals; or that Republicans are more accepting of gender-role stereotypes and less prone to embracing “masculine” women.  Or the trend could begin on the other end: that conservative women are more likely than their liberal counterparts to cultivate a sexy, feminine appearance; they're more likely to embrace their inner beauty queen.

Those are broad generalizations, and there’s probably a little bit of truth and a whole lot of notable exceptions to them.  But Wurtzel called attention to a visible and not wholly accidental disparity between the Left and the Right.  Neither Wurtzel nor I am saying that glamour and sex appeal are exclusive attributes of the Right – there are obviously smokin’ liberals (look at Hollywood).  But in the political arena, and especially in the relatively new frontier of cable news punditry, the feminine vs. feminist dichotomy is extreme.

Let’s look at an example. Fox News’s morning host is Gretchen Carlson; MSNBC’s evening host is Rachael Maddow. Both women graduated from Stanford, 4 years apart (Carlson is older).   But Carlson is a former Miss America, and Maddow…well, "30 Rock" may have put it best when they mocked Jack Donaghy for having Maddow’s haircut.  Because he so does.


There may be many contributing factors behind Fox’s foxes, but the phenomenon of hot conservatives is not fleeting, and is not unsuccessful.   Even if you disagree with Sarah Palin (which most people do, even Republicans, I promise – that woman hasn’t said anything remotely intelligible since her inaugural pit bull joke), you can’t deny that her influence has been widespread and powerful.   Palin became a household name overnight, and didn’t disappear from the scene even after losing the Presidential election and resigning from the position that put her on the map.  She spearheaded a movement that completely overhauled the U.S. Congress in the midterm elections.  She’s a dynamite fundraiser, constantly visible, and definitely unforgettable.  And Wurtzel is right: she couldn’t have done it if she were ugly.

I’m sure plenty of people will say this is a travesty, an embarrassment – haven't we fought back against women rising to power because of their looks and not their intellect?  But if Palin has proven anything, it's that good looks have good staying power. Just look at her new reality T.V. show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," which is obviously terrible, but premiered last week to 4.96 million viewers - the biggest ever for host network TLC.  You don't think 4 million people would watch "Hillary Clinton's Arkansas," now, do you?

 
Note: if you like (or hate) this post, you should read In Defense of Men (and Smart Women), from the blog earlier this year.  Then you should tell me how pretty I am what you think.
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11 comments

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Hebbard
AUTHOR
December 6, 2010 at 8:25 AM delete

"Those are broad generalizations..."

More like generalizations about broads, amiright?

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Meghan
AUTHOR
December 6, 2010 at 10:23 PM delete

You're such an impressive writer, I do have to say. And, about the comment, CONGRATS!!! So exciting!! How hard you've worked! My sister is a 1L at Alabama this year. I don't think I ever told you that. She's struggling. I told her she can talk to you if she needs some solidarity. I'm coming up to Chattanooga on the 17th and staying until the 31st. Are you going to be around? Tim's mom lives in Atlanta and we're going to come down there one day...not sure which yet.

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Ben
AUTHOR
December 7, 2010 at 10:01 AM delete

I can’t buy this argument. Maybe it’s because I am a closet liberal, but fundamentally I believe we are a society premised on the notion that all people are created equal. We choose to look past gender, race, creed, and sexual orientation. Those differences are real, but we believe they are irrelevant in public matters.

On to this stage walks Sarah Palin. If Ms. Wurtzel is right (and she may be), it creates a real cognitive dissonance between the values we hold, the pundits we listen to, and ultimately, the politics we believe.

I believe Big Boi said it best:

Caroline (Caroline)
All the guys would say she's mighty fine (mighty fine)
But mighty fine only got you somewhere half the time
And the other half either got you cursed out, or coming up short (yeah)

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Scott
AUTHOR
December 7, 2010 at 11:27 AM delete

Any day of the week, I’d take Maddow over Fox’s pretty ladies. Why, in this instance, should aesthetics matter? We want intelligent newscasters, right? The conflation between who is pretty and who can deliver news in the most cogent, discerning fashion is absolutely absurd. Fox is even more interesting, perhaps, because they often find well-educated, attractive women who will demean themselves and downplay their intelligence on national television. Stanford educated women sarcastically saying that they need a dictionary to read a senator’s statement because it contains the word “regal?” I think not, my friends. Sad. Sad. Sad.

I am not at all disagreeing with you that the democrats would help themselves by perhaps acquiring some attractive, public women; I’m simply saying that I find the principle behind this fact utterly repulsive.

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Scott
AUTHOR
December 7, 2010 at 11:29 AM delete

Oh, and I should add that I'm not proffering the idea that it's impossible to be both beautiful in the eyes of the masses and brilliant in the eyes of the educated.

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Matt!
AUTHOR
December 7, 2010 at 3:22 PM delete

Um, I totally want to bone Rachel Maddow. She is hot.

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Amer
AUTHOR
December 7, 2010 at 7:38 PM delete

Exhibit A: http://www.gq.com/news-politics/politics/201012/megyn-kelly-fox-news

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Alison Lee
AUTHOR
December 7, 2010 at 7:55 PM delete

My point in commenting on Wurtzel's article was not so much to personally condone this phenomenon, but more to point it out and hypothesize some potential reasons behind it.

And I'm pretty sure Scott has a crush on me.

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
December 8, 2010 at 8:23 PM delete

I think this is just a carry over of the way we all work. Everyone will put up with a hot chick who is bitchy just because she's hot. However, if an uggo is bitchy, no one will be friends with her because she has no redeeming qualities.

What's my point? hot chicks start with a (sexy) leg up on the competition. At this point, politics/mainstream media is basically a high school popularity contest, and we know how the bitchy fat girl fairs in those...

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Meagan
AUTHOR
December 9, 2010 at 5:38 AM delete

I guess Krystal Ball was trying to even the score. A red dildo works every time!

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