Newt's Struggling Spanish vs. Nancy's Sophisticated Scarves

April 6th, 2007 8:58 AM

Usually, media coverage comparisons of Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi take place across about twelve years, from Gingrich's rise in 1995 to Pelosi's new job in 2007. But Friday's Washington Post makes it all contemporary on the front page of the Style section. At the top, Jose Antonio Vargas whacked Gingrich as he apologized in a YouTube video for his recent remarks "equating bilingual education with 'the language of living in a ghetto.'"

At the bottom of the page came the latest in a series of print high-fives for Pelosi from Post fashion critic Robin Givhan, who insisted the scarves Pelosi used to cover her hair in Syria were fabulous. Over a large photo of Pelosi with head scarf, the headline read "Nancy Pelosi, Respectfully Maintaining Her Own Image."

The Vargas piece on Gingrich was loaded with angry Latinos in favor of bilingual education. Vargas mocked Gingrich's grasp of Spanish: "(However: Memorando al Señor Gingrich: In Spanish, the "r" is rolled and the syl-la-bles are se-pa-ra-ted.)" He added: "As of yesterday afternoon, Gingrich's YouTube apology, the Spanish version, had been watched more than 34,000 times on the video-sharing site. Comments kept coming in, some viewers sympathetic to Gingrich, many not, others simply LOLing -- laughing out loud." Only one website commenter was quoted supporting Gingrich's stand on bilingualism.

Givhan took no time to argue that there could be giggles in Nancy's headwear. She argued that while Western leaders looked profoundly uncomfortable in Vietnamese garb at the last Asian summit, and while the British hostages in Iran were denied their uniforms as they departed from captivity, Pelosi was a diva, fully in control of her fashion faculties:

Pelosi, with her carefully coordinated scarves, respected her foreign surroundings without ceding any control. She assiduously avoided leaving a trail of cringe-inducing photographs in which she looked so uncomfortable she might as well have been dressed in a coat of porcupine quills. Her multipurpose, culturally adaptable scarves underscored the reality that sometimes it not only matters who you are, but also what you wear.

No one in the liberal Post could locate the feminist argument that perhaps the Middle East is antiquated for requiring the ladies to cover their locks. Instead, Givhan merely began by noting Pelosi's talent for modesty and her movie-star heroine good looks:

The scarves provided her with an additional bit of sartorial modesty when the situation required it and she was also able to use them to cover her head when protocol dictated -- such as when she visited the tomb of John the Baptist inside a mosque in Damascus and tied one around her head in the manner of a Hitchcock heroine.