I was standing in the kitchen with my 10-year-old goddaughter when she plugged in her pink iPod and began shaking her prepubescent booty (her bootylita?). Then, arms flailing in the air, she sang these off-pitch words: "I got a crush on Obama." I placed my iced tea gently on the table. Excuse me, but when did presidential candidates become objects of young lust? I don't recall peering up from under my patchwork quilt and seeing a Jimmy Carter poster next to a shirtless David Cassidy.
I can't tell you how many Washington dinners I've attended lately where the topic of how to stop the bloodshed in Iraq suddenly gives way to who's sexier, Barack or Hillary? Not long ago, Clinton could be seen on C-SPAN2 discussing the cost of higher education, which prompted an article in the Washington Post focused on the fact that the black V-neck shirt she wore during the speech seemed to reveal a bit of cleavage. Will that small airspace between her breasts really win her more votes? Personally, I'd rather have Clinton focusing on health-care reform than icing her nipples.
But it's not just the lone female candidate getting all the scrutiny. On Hardball recently, Chris Matthews wondered aloud what makes Fred Thompson sexy. "Is it the mature older-man [thing]? ... can you smell the English Leather on this guy?" Surely Thompson's virile effect owes something to his curvaceous blonde wife young enough to be his daughter, with the stripperlike name of Jeri. (Imagine the White House Christmas card.) Meanwhile, Mitt Romney's conventional handsomeness is being upheld as the sharpest arrow in his quiver. Yes, he's chiseled and has good skin, but will he raise taxes? That's not sexy!
They say that in the past two elections, votes were cast on the basis of with whom you'd want to have a beer. This time, it's about with whom you'd want to sleep. Maybe the country is experiencing a seven-year itch? Seven years of a sexless administration will do that. President Bush, with his "lights out at 9" policy (I picture pajamas and twin beds), and Laura looking so pinched and frustrated — the populace is champing at the bit for some sort of hot political climax.
Not that the presidency has, to this point, been a beacon of rectitude. A photo of perky Donna Rice on the lustful lap of Gary Hart sank his candidacy, while Bill Clinton's escapades with a cigar and a blue dress almost cost him his job. Both, however, were pre-YouTube and pre-"John Edwards Is Sexy" T-shirts being sold on the Web. Now people who refer to themselves as "Obama Girl" and "Giuliani Girl" can perform their candidate-crush smackdown for an audience of millions. Who needs debates?
But YouTube has done no favors for Edwards. Not only did he catch flack for his $400 haircuts, there's the disturbing four-minute video called "Breck Girl," in which the populist with the country drawl pats and perfects his locks before a TV appearance. You would think he'd have notes to go over, a breathing exercise, something.
We live in scary times, where award-winning journalists froth at the mouth for an exclusive sit-down with Paris Hilton, and everyone on TV, on YouTube — even presidential candidates — is that undifferentiated thing: a celebrity. Given what's at stake in this election, maybe it's somehow more palatable to fixate on sex appeal.
If so, after the Iowa caucus, why don't we just cut to the chase and add a swimsuit competition? Hillary could wear a silver bikini and juggle fire sticks while singing the national anthem. Then we'll see if she's got the balls — and the cleavage — to be president.
Stay In The Know
Marie Claire email subscribers get intel on fashion and beauty trends, hot-off-the-press celebrity news, and more. Sign up here.
Princess Kate Accidentally Made Fans Think She Was Wearing Crocs
Kinda disappointed she wasn't, TBH.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Meghan Markle Probably Found Princess Kate's Senior Royal Role "Very Hard to Swallow," Says Expert
This makes sense to me.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Prince Harry Says He "Felt Forced" to Leave the U.K. in Court Statement
By Iris Goldsztajn
36 Ways Women Still Aren't Equal to Men
It's just one of the many ways women still aren't equal to men.
By Brooke Knappenberger
How New York's First Female Governor Plans to Fight for Women If Reelected
Kathy Hochul twice came to power because men resigned amid sexual harassment scandals. Here, how she's leading differently.
By Emily Tisch Sussman
Why the 2022 Midterm Elections Are So Critical
As we blaze through a highly charged midterm election season, Swing Left Executive Director Yasmin Radjy highlights rising stars who are fighting for women’s rights.
By Tanya Benedicto Klich
Tammy Duckworth: 'I’m Mad as Hell' About the Lack of Federal Action on Gun Safety
The Illinois Senator won't let the memory of the Highland Park shooting just fade away.
By Sen. Tammy Duckworth
Roe Is Gone. We Have to Keep Fighting.
Democracy always offers a path forward even when we feel thrust into the past.
By Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland, hosts of Pantsuit Politics Podcast
The Supreme Court's Mississippi Abortion Rights Case: What to Know
The case could threaten Roe v. Wade.
By Megan DiTrolio
Sex Trafficking Victims Are Being Punished. A New Law Could Change That.
Victims of sexual abuse are quietly criminalized. Sara's Law protects kids that fight back.
By Dr. Devin J. Buckley and Erin Regan
My Family and I Live in Navajo Nation. We Don't Have Access to Clean Running Water
"They say that the United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Why are citizens still living with no access to clean water?"
By Amanda L. As Told To Rachel Epstein