Dowd Reinforces Rush on Hillary Looks

Talk about the dog that didn't bark . . .

As soon as I realized that Maureen Dowd's column of today, "Rush to Judgment" was indeed about Rush Limbaugh's recent observations about Hillary's looks, I braced myself for the backlash.

Surely Dowd would seek to unload on Rush for having said, in commenting on an unflattering photo of Hillary [displayed here] that turned up on Drudge, "will this country want to actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?” Added Rush “men aging makes them look more authoritative, accomplished, distinguished. Sadly, it’s not that way for women, and they will tell you.” And Hillary “is not going to want to look like she’s getting older, because it will impact poll numbers, it will impact perceptions [so] there will have to be steps taken to avoid the appearance of aging.”

And so I continued to read, and wait, and wait -- for the comeback that never came. To the contrary, Dowd seconded Rush's read, added some analysis of her own of Hillary's looks . . . and ended with a hit on Hillary rougher than anything Rush had said.

Excerpts [emphasis added]:
  • Yet it’s true that looks matter in politics, even though Abe Lincoln still ranks as our favorite president. J.F.K.’s tan and Nixon’s 5-o’clock shadow helped turn that 1960 debate in Kennedy’s favor, just as Gore’s waxy orange makeup and condescending mien hurt him in a debate with W.
  • It is also true that perfecting the outer shell has become an obsession in this country.
  • Women are still scrutinized more critically on their looks, which seem to fluctuate more on camera, depending on lighting, bloating and wardrobe.
  • Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and John Edwards almost always look good, and pretty much the same, in dark suits or casual wear. Fred Thompson always looks crepuscular and droopy. Often Hillary looks great, and sometimes she looks tired, heavier or puffier.
  • Since this is the first time we’ve had a woman who was a serious contender for president, it’s been an adjustment to watch her more changeable looks, and to see the lengths she goes to get the right lighting and to make the right wardrobe choices.
  • Hillary doesn’t have to worry about her face. She has to worry about her mask. Back in the ’92 race, Clinton pollsters devised strategies to humanize her and make her seem more warm and maternal. Fifteen years later, her campaign is devising strategies to humanize her and make her seem more warm and maternal.
  • The public still has no idea of what part of her is stage-managed and focus-grouped, and what part is legit. It’s pretty pathetic, at this stage of her career, that she has to wage a major offensive, by helicopter and Web testimonials, to make herself appear warm-blooded.
Ouch.

In sum: Rush makes comments that you might have thought would bring down liberal wrath, and instead, a leading arbiter of Upper West Side opinion seconds his notion. Talk about being on the cutting edge of societal evolution . . .
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.