Monday, April 17, 2006

Gimme a breatk! A Pulitzer for Robin Givhan?!

In the past couple of years, I've bemusedly followed the fashion stylings of the Washington Post fashion writer, Robin Givhan, as she bashed the clothes that conservatives wore while going all tiddly for John Kerry's and John Edward's coiffures. If you needed any more of an indication of how questionable the judgment of the the Pulitzer Prize judges can be, you would need to know no more than that they saw fit to give Givhan the Pulitzer this year for her "her witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism." If that seems like the type of writing that Maureen Dowd has been doing for years, you're right. Givhan is a Dowd wannabe who seems to regret being stuck on the fashion beat.

Here are some of the Givhan highlights from the past couple of years. Supreme Court nominees seem to particularly get her riled up.

She saw fit to criticize Mrs. Roberts for dressing her two children in pastels for the White House announcement of her husband's nomination to the Supreme Court. What could be more shocking that a proud wife would have the low taste to dress her kids up in what used to be called their "Sunday best" for such a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

She couldn't stand Harriet Miers' eye makeup because the eyeliner seemed to shout that Miers actually was trying too hard to look nice for her moment in the spotlight. We can't have middle-aged women do that, now can we?

And Mrs. Alito? Boy, did Givhan find her a tasteless frump. In fact, the Alitos looked to the witty, cultured Ms. Givhan like a couple who would get their photo done at a Sears photo center. Boy, that just won't do.

And then Dick Cheney had the bad taste to wear a parka to the ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary at Auschwitz. Some might have had their thoughts turn to oh, say the Holocaust, at such an occasion, but not our girl, Robin. No, her mind is on loftier thoughts. And the parka had to go.

The one Republican who has earned her approbation has been Condoleezza Rice. Givhan liked the dominatrix look that she perceived in Rice's fashion choices.
Rice's coat and boots speak of sex and power -- such a volatile combination, and one that in political circles rarely leads to anything but scandal. When looking at the image of Rice in Wiesbaden, the mind searches for ways to put it all into context. It turns to fiction, to caricature. To shadowy daydreams. Dominatrix! It is as though sex and power can only co-exist in a fantasy. When a woman combines them in the real world, stubborn stereotypes have her power devolving into a form that is purely sexual.
Hmmm. I wonder what Givhan thinks of Hillary Clinton's pants suits? Do those scream a fantasy of sex and power to her? (I can sense many of my male readers racing to try to erase that mental image.)

But there were some politicians whose fashion choices did please the fashionista. You guessed it? It was that well-coifed duo, Kerry and Edwards.
Edwards's hair has regularly been referred to as a mop, but that suggests that it is messy or unkempt. Nothing could be further from the truth. He has a precise haircut with artfully clipped layers. His hair is a beautiful shade of chocolate brown with honey-colored highlights. It is not particularly long, but it is smooth and shiny. It is boyish hair not because of the style but because it looks so healthy and buoyant and practically cries out to be tousled the same way a well-groomed golden retriever demands to be nuzzled.

Kerry's hair has gone from black to a salt-and-pepper blend -- a fact underscored every time a news program runs the ubiquitous footage of Kerry as an antiwar spokesman in 1971. Even before he brought Edwards aboard his campaign, stirring up images of the two in a greenroom sharing a pot of Aveda anti-humectant pomade, Kerry would make wistful comments about his hair's transformation from black to silver: Where did all that black hair go?

Not to worry. His hair may have turned silver, but he has arrived at age 60 seemingly without having lost a strand. What man wouldn't gloat, just a little?

While hair is ostensibly the topic, anyone who knows the story of Samson and Delilah or who has ever read a bodice-ripper romance, knows that hair is a symbol of virility. All of this talk about who has the bigger, thicker, better hair is simply a coy way of asserting which campaign is chockablock with virility and which is in need of Viagra.
Hmmm. Was virility a word that you ever associated with John Edwards?

So, there you have it. The writer whose fashion criticism rated a Pulitzer.

When you add in the Pulitzers given to Dana Priest for her leaked story on secret prisons for terrorists and James Risen for his stories on the NSA surveillance program, both stories that served to raise big hooplas in the press and among the Democrats, one conclusion seems inescapable.

Let's face it. These were the Pulitzer equivalents of the Nobel Peace Prize for Jimmy Carter.

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