WashPost on Cheney: Krauthammer vs. Media, Givhan on Veep's Pink Tie

February 17th, 2006 8:15 AM

The Cheney story is in decline today, with the first story on page A-5, the county sheriff’s report. There’s a don’t-go-hunting joke to lead off Al Kamen’s column on the Federal Page, and then two columns: Eugene Robinson’s second Cheney pounding of the week, and Charles Krauthammer sternly taking on the media: "This news briefing got famously out of control (as a psychiatrist I found the groups I ran for inpatient schizophrenics far more civilized)." And he mocked their odd objection to the veep's secrecy:

Secrecy? This was hardly an affair of state. And it was hardly going to be kept secret. Arrogance? The media laying these charges are the same media that just last week unilaterally decided that the public's right to know did not extend to seeing cartoons that had aroused half the world, burned a small part of it and deeply affected the American national interest. Having arrogated to themselves the judgment of what a free people should be allowed to see regarding an issue that is literally burning, they then go ballistic over a few hours' delay in revealing an accident with only the most trivial connection to the nation's interest or purpose.

The only Cheney item promoted on the front page was fashion reporter Robin Givhan trying to praise Cheney for his pink tie. At least it seemed that way with the headline, "Winning Flush." In sum, it does suggest the tie was winning, and the scandal is waning. But you'd never get the impression she liked the guy. She did mention her last subject for Cheney commentary, the parka scandal at Auschwitz. Then she compared Cheney to a gangsta rapper:

Cheney's pink four-in-hand registered in the manner of pigtails on a gangsta rapper. In the parlance of hip-hop, the look is full of macho swagger and the not-so-subtle suggestion that even with the hairdo of a pre-adolescent girl, the rapper is still the toughest thing standing in the room. The incongruous sartorial flourish is a display of irony and confidence.

Whether he intended it to do so or not, Cheney's pink tie came across as a mocking nod to the culture's well-trod -- and often absurd -- path to forgiveness after a public debacle: Pass through the valley of silence. Turn right at the big pit of self-righteousness. Wallow in spotlit contrition. Be sure not to look sweaty and shifty-eyed on camera. ("Oprah" appearance optional.)

Givhan saw scandal-fashion parallels to Hillary Clinton's Pink Lady press conference in 1994, when she trifled with press questions ("coulda, woulda, shoulda," she sniffed at inquiries about walking a stricter ethical line.) But Givhan saw only a woman forced to forego her feminist stance for an hour or two:

It was difficult to see any irony in Clinton's pink suit, although there well may have been plenty. A woman in pink, exuding all the connotations of girls being made of "sugar and spice and everything nice," is a cliche that stubbornly lingers in the culture. Clinton wasn't so much mocking the process as succumbing to it. She was settling into her "proper" place if only for the photo op.

For Clinton, a pink suit worked like a shield. For Cheney, a pink tie was a weapon.

The pink tie as a weapon? What was he going to do, strangle Brit with it?