Guess what? Hillary has cleavage. Wow. Who knew? Washington Post Fashion Critic Robin Givhan exposed this amazing fact after Senator Clinton appeared on C-Span giving a speech on the Senate floor while wearing a v-neck top that went slightly lower than expected, given the Senator’s normally conservative neckline. Givhan’s column ignited a furious storm of protest, including a marvelous column by Ellen Goodman in the Boston Globe in which she makes this pithy statement: “In the end, the question is not whether a candidate can show a hint of breast but whether you can have breasts and be president.” The Clinton campaign has used this episode to launch a new round of fund raising, reminding voters that the women’s revolution is far from over.
C’mon folks, there’s a war on. There’s massive flooding in Texas, wildfires in the West, and a stock market plunge that’s far more serious than a little skin. There’s the usual summer spike in violence in major cities, and terrorism lurking in blocks of cheese in suitcases. There’s almost no one left to win the Tour de France, and the sports pages read like the docket at the local courthouse. Lindsay Lohan flunked rehab for the third time, and Nicole is following in Paris’s footsteps to the local jail.
But we’re talking cleavage. It’s silly season in the media, and the political campaigns have already exhausted themselves and everyone else with too much scripted talk about too many trivial things. The You Tube debate was further evidence of the decline in serious thinking in our political discourse.
I spent part of my summer vacation reading 1776, David McCullough’s insightful history of how we almost lost the battle for independence in that fateful year. Through working with many original documents, letters and diaries, McCullough carefully recounts the suffering of countless patriots in the Continental Army who struggled through unimaginably horrific conditions in the early days of the Revolutionary War.
It’s a long way from the freezing banks of the Delaware River where George Washington’s stealthy December 1776 crossing launched the Battle of Trenton to the comfortable salons of politicians and pundits in 2007 Washington. Perhaps a more astute sense of the obligations that our history imposes on us — a more passionate understanding of the moral obligation we have today to be good stewards of our freedoms — would elevate our national discourse going into the 2008 elections.
Our debates should be about war and peace, civil rights and threats to justice, how the richest nation in history cares for the poor among us, whether all people truly are able to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness equally. We the people must demand an end to the trivialization of political discourse.
We can start by demanding an end to the trivialization of candidates for political office. The only thing that’s important is what they think and how they will achieve the true goals of our democracy. Whether male or female, black or white, fashionista or frumpy is truly irrelevant. What counts is moral character, courage and the deep passion necessary to lead this fractious nation to a more peaceful, equitable, satisfying future for all to enjoy.