I was all set to go to bed - that'll teach me to do a "just a quick check" online before retiring - when I saw this piece of stunning nonsense from Lisa Schiffren at The Corner on National Review. Schiffren, a former speechwriter for Dan Quayle, notes the savvy use Hillary Clinton's campaign has made of the controversy swirling around Robin Givhan's absurd "cleavage" column, and then asserts:
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.)
Well, no, it's not; one of the stupidest things about Givhan's "body of work" is just how puerile her "fashion insight" has proven to be. From taking a pair of boots on Condoleeza Rice and finding a tough dominatrix in them, to giving a cold Dick Cheney a hard time for wearing a parka at a formal dedication in the snow, Givhan has shown over and over that if there's something deep to be found in what politicians wear, she's bound and determined not to find it. No, her assessments are indeed, the definition of "skin deep" - obvious, catty assertions that show little real flair or wit, just a command of fashion terms and a sneery, put down attitude for Washington's famously dowdy approach to style. (Which is why most real fashion people live elsewhere).
I think official Washington, which knows perfectly well that its safe dressing is dull, secretly relishes, in that high school way, seeing Givhan tease the powerful for their fashion faux pas; but really, what's keeping people from calling Givhan out would be the admission that the emperor, indeed has no clothes - that the discussion what candidates wear is pointless and illuminates nothing (especially in Givhan's case, where it mostly reveals she's a catty bitch). What goes into political "image creation" has less to do with dress and more to do with comportment and demeanor. And we have a gazillion armchair psychologists for that. Personally, I stand in stunned admiration of what Givhan has managed to pull off: crap writing and a Pulitzer. Makes me wish I'd thought of it first.