Can the Catty Remarks on Clinton's Weight

Focus on appearance is dragging down both politics and journalism
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2009 8:31 AM CDT
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the Department of State last month.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
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(Newser) – Remarks like Tina Brown's recent crack on MSNBC that Hillary Clinton "needs to get back in the gym," are dragging public debate down to a high-school level, Chloe Angyal writes at SpliceToday. Nobody's looking too hard at the waistline of male politicians or diplomats, Angyal notes, but journalists—especially female ones—can't resist bitchy attacks on women's bodies and clothes.

The crack put Brown on the level of conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, who pegged Meghan McCain as "a failed plus-size model, too fat to be taken seriously as a GOP thought leader." Such attacks lay bare a "cultural discomfort" with women in power, Angyal writes, and perpetuate the myth that one needs to be beautiful to be heard. America needs to decide if it will let female politicians make a contribution, or continue to "waste time, and talent, chatting about lipstick, hairstyles, shorts, and pantsuits."