Tuning into “The Daily Show with Jon
Stewart” last Wednesday night and “The View” this Monday morning, I
was shocked and disappointed to see former First Lady Hillary
Clinton don the same outfit and with it, a tired message.
Sauntering onto the couches of both the Comedy Central and ABC
show, Clinton sported a black pinstripe suit with a white shirt and
pearls.

Kate Green

The problem arises not just because Clinton wore the outfit on
national television less than a week apart but since it was
inappropriate for both situation. While Jon Stewart and colleagues
wear suits, the show’s guests are expected to wear an outfit that
would endear them to the young audience. Similarly, “The View” is
organized around five women discussing things ranging from the
violence in the weekend’s box office hit, “Kill Bill” to the
sexiest man in America contest. Their outfits range just as widely
and include print dresses, pants-and-sweater combos and Barb’s
infamous suits.

Clinton missed an opportunity to dress for the job she wants and
in turn could not combat the label of a cold and unimpressive
person who rode into office on the merits of her husband. Dressing
well, made simple for men who can throw on a tie, even if it is a
Calvin and Hobbes-themed one, is a direct indicator that the person
cares and is making an effort. An autobiography that claims both a
love for the Yankees and a life as a feminist leader beaten up on
by the Republican heavyweights in Washington will not suffice to
change the minds of the countless millions who opted not to buy the
book.

The book was a main focus in both interviews, providing Clinton
plenty of opportunities to diverge from the usual rhetoric.
Unfortunately, she failed miserably to capture either audience and
even shared the same stories. Both television shows gave Clinton
free access to two very different voters: the increasingly more
informed young adult and the soccer moms of suburbia. However, by
not catering to either group, she wasted five to 10 minutes of
prime television plugs for her book, political career and
party.

It might not be fair to judge Clinton’s outfits when male
politicians’ fashions (except for her husband’s tie collection) are
not as strictly scrutinized. However, years of reading fashion
magazines ingrains in my mind the need to analyze and notice the
outfits of our leaders.

For example, Saddam Hussein emerged on the scene wearing khaki
fashions similar to those showcased at DKNY and Christian Dior,
which brought back military garb and tilted berets. Also, his
ability to display his opulence in three-piece suits sent the
message to the residents of Iraq of wealth, importance and
stability.

Even trophy wives – as Maria Shriver has been cornered to
represent – still play a role in political fashions. Shriver’s
clean-cut and bright outfits during the California elections
offered her and her husband more time in the spotlight. In a
classic Jackie O.-styled outfit at the victory celebration, Shriver
brought to Californians a hope of a return to Camelot.

Clinton understands the importance of her appearance – the
hoopla over her hair has accustomed her to this scrutiny. Thus, it
is even more disappointing for her to completely disregard her
outfit. What could have been a celebration of her appearance and
somewhat entertaining interview (due more to Stewart’s wit than
Clinton’s prescence) last week is now just a reminder of yet
another moment marred by homogeny.

Discontent with political leaders, (known to the Germans as
politikverdrossenheit) has been rising, especially with those who
fail to change with the times or with varying situations. Al Gore
was not even able to carry his own state in 2000, because his
constituents felt he had spent too much time in Washington, losing
touch with them, and since he was providing the exact same rhetoric
(repeat “lockbox” about 400 times). If the party is not able to
spice things up and provide alternatives with fresh voices, 2004
can be written off as yet another lost cause. Maybe if we vote into
power a novice with few ties to public office, the Democrats will
get the message that we’re sick of the same ol’ Washington
politician.

Chirumamilla can be reached at
“mailto:schiruma@umich.edu”>schiruma@umich.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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