Friday, January 22, 2010

Double Standards: Two More than I Thought We Had

Republican Scott Brown's senate victory in Massachusetts means three things:

First, that Health Care Reform, which virtually everyone agrees needs to happen in some form, has been officially diagnosed with a terminal illness. Health Care Reform would like to be treated for this illness, but its policy has been arbitrarily cancelled. 

Second, that people in Massachusetts might lack some perspective. They were happy to keep sending Ted Kennedy to Washington despite decades of embarrassing drunken scandal, but were out for Martha Coakley's blood when she called Curt Schilling a Yankees fan.

Third, that a man who used to be a nude model can win an election for a major national office. 

As a Republican.

Honestly, people, I don't know why this is such a big deal. Schwarzenegger showed his hindquarters in "Terminator," and nobody thought twice about allowing him to become Governor of California so he would not plow a car into the state house and open fire on the innocent people inside.

The one thing that gives me pause is wondering if a woman could do the same thing.

(I'm not talking about plowing a car into a building. I know plenty of women who have done that.  I'm talking about getting elected after showing the world her unmentionables.)

Could Sarah Palin have found her way on Jon McCain's ticket if she had posed for Playboy a couple of decades ago?

Would anyone have ever voted for Susan Collins if she had misspent her wild youth filibustering in the buff?

As Jeremy Mayer pointed out in the New York Daily News, sexism in politics is hard to miss "when a woman's homeliness becomes an issue in an election, while men ugly enough to stop traffic typically get a free pass. Or when a woman is judged 'too attractive' in focus groups, and her campaign urges her to dress less sexily so the voters will think she's smarter."

And, he says, female politicians can't live down any mistakes the way their male counterparts can. 

I have to agree. Women have to be squeaky clean. The slightest flaw or blemish gets amplified to the extreme.

Hillary Clinton actually lost votes because of how she handled her husband's infidelity.

But a man can get drunk, grope an undercover detective in an airport restroom, sell votes to lobbyists and special interests, and toss out racial slurs like toothpicks, and the worst that will happen is a few pundits will wonder if that might be a little much for one appearance on "Meet the Press."

You also have to wonder if the conservative media applied a different standard to Brown because he is a clean-cut, white Republican. "I can just imagine what Rush Limbaugh or Fox News would have done with nude photos of a Democratic nominee of either gender," notes Mayer.

Ew. I wish he had phrased that differently.

Republicans champion themselves as bastions of civilized morality, whose holy example shines a beacon of cleanliness to rescue our depraved society from the moral squalor that constantly infects and pervades our society.

On the other hand, selling your body to a hyper-glossed waste of trees that is dedicated to putting the word "sex" in as many different phrases as possible on its cover ("99 sex moves," "sex genius," "bad girl sex," "the sex tricks he craves," "total body sex," etc.) really isn't that bad.  

Maybe Martha Coakley should have tried it. 

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