Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Harry Wonders Whether Barack Is Cool

Well, actually, as any fool know, he is.
I don’t know where he gets his suits and shirts. And ties and shoes. It isn’t really relevant. They are not that interesting.
He’s playing the game of looking corporately solid.
( And , pragmatically, I’m glad he is). It appears that somewhere along the line we have colluded with an idea of what we want our father figures to look like. Because that’s what they are. They are the ones who tell us , metaphorically speaking, that everything is ok because they are reassuringly in control ( oh yeah?). And, not quite so fancifully, when we should go to war.
The fact is that female politicians don’t have the same universally acceptable corporate style to find refuge in. Thatcher did it by reflecting back a frightening combination of post war austerity and joylessness (dull clothes) combined with a folk memory of a fearful headmistress.
No-one else can now do that without looking like a pale imitation.
Palin is ghastly. ( As was Thatcher.) But that’s got nothing to do with her wardrobe. And I still don’t know what is the problem people have with Hillary. But please don’t tell me it’s her clothes.

Yes, in the public spotlight you can expect to be de-constructed. And derided. Particularly if you are female.
The fact is that there is an inhibition about ripping apart your average male politician about the way he presents himself. Why are we so deferential?
Perhaps we don’t want to incur daddy’s wrath by being so trivial. Or , even more worrying, provoke him into storming out and leaving us bereft of his oh so re-assuring masculinity.
But perhaps we are simply acknowledging the fact that men ,incompetent in so many ways , are particularly lacking in how they present themselves. Poor bunnies. We just accept that they don’t know how to do anything other than conform.
This time round, ( just like T Blair in the UK ten years ago) I don’t care if playing the conformity game means Barrack will win .
But I am still mildly curious why nobody has revealed where he gets his ties .


phyllis said...

I think any man can look good in a suit. Obama also looks amazing in white tie and tails, the most difficult male uniform to pull off successfully. He can do it because, just like George H.W. Bush and Ronald Regan, he's tall and slim. And so he can wear anything, even with those Alred E. Newman ears.

Toby Wollin said...

Yep - height makes up for a lot for men. Hillary's problem is/was that she was demonized by the right wing for so long that no matter what she wears, to many people, she's still the Wicked Witch of the West.

Geraldine said...

Is he tall? I heard not. Just that he gives an impression of being tall. I'd love to know how tall he really is, but in feet and inches, preferably as I am baffled by metres.

Linda Grant said...

He's six feet one and a half inches.

Geraldine said...

Well that's plenty tall enough for me!int

desertwind said...


Y'all might enjoy this graphic

Judith in Umbria said...

American men don't have to buy ties. They are given them. Unlike shirts, you don't have to know the size, it usually is a smaller investment than a suit or coat and it's easy to wrap.
Fortunately for Pbama, whoever buys his hasn't done any of the truly bizarre things you can do.

Harry Fenton said...

desert wind, that's a really good link. Of course....Obama has shades of a young Miles Davis, mixed with a bit of John Coltrane, and you can't get much cooler than that.

George S said...

Oh, Linda - get your speling rite. It is "as any fule kno" - as indeed any fule kno...

- N. Molesworth

Linda Grant said...

That's Harry Fenton with the spelling mistakes, he also misspelt Barack, which I had to correct.

George S said...

That's part of the male incompetence package then...:)

Harry Fenton said...

In deference to the non- Brit constituency of readers I thought that the correct/ incorrect spelling looked a bit weird. And I imagined that those who got it might let it pass.

Anonymous said...

"And I still don’t know what is the problem people have with Hillary. But please don’t tell me it’s her clothes."

Thank you. I got sick of it. And at least she walked her talk, wearing those practical if slightly dowdy pantsuits, instead of blowing $150K on a shopping spree, as did Sarah Palin, soi-disant Woman of the People.

A lot of Americans are superficial, sexist, and stupid. I think that's all there is to it.

Geraldine said...

Anonymous, I couldn't possibly comment, but we'll find out tomorrow.