Let’s stipulate that Elizabeth Warren should not have responded when debate moderators asked her to comment on Scott Brown’s decision to pose in Cosmopolitan magazine years ago to pay for college. In fact, let’s stipulate that no candidate should ever comment on another candidate’s physical appearance, clothed or unclothed, or say anything that causes voters to visualize any candidate’s body. Please.
There was nothing to be gained by Warren’s dig that “I kept my clothes on” during college. Nothing. But even so…ARE YOU KIDDING ME, SCOTT BROWN? On a Boston radio show this morning, the junior senator from Massachusetts was asked if he had an official response to “Warren’s comment about how she didn’t take her clothes off.” As it happens, Brown did: “Thank God.”
That’s the sort of comeback you make to your sister at the Thanksgiving table, and even then you’d get slugged for it. It’s the kind of snarky insult that would be at home in a comments section. Politicians do know that when they’re on the radio, other people can hear them, right? Last week, Michele Bachmann thanked a radio caller for saying that he’d vote for serial killer Charles Manson over Obama. And now Brown makes this crack?
Apparently, the idea that politics is an extension of junior high has not faded along with Sarah Palin’s political relevancy. Nor has the double-standard for female candidates when it comes to appearance. Wear the same pantsuit too many times or have a bad hair day, and all the talk is about how you look. Invest in a make-up artist and a spiffed-up wardrobe to avoid those issues, and you get dinged for caring too much about how you look.
I hope Scott Brown is already regretting his mean girl snark this morning. But if not, he might want to look back at how female voters responded when Rick Lazio bullied his way into Hillary Clinton’s personal space in a 2000 Senate debate or when Barack Obama told her she was “likeable enough” during the 2008 primaries. Or he could watch any teen comedy made in the last three decades. Everyone knows that the popular jerk who ridicules the ordinary girl may get laughs from his buddies, but by the end of the movie he’s the loser, usually headfirst in a snowdrift or mud-spattered and sputtering.