The media’s double standard when it examines the wealth and privilege of the two presidential candidates was on display again this week. The analysts of haute couture and its intersection with politics were silent when First Lady Michelle Obama showed up to meet the Queen of England in an very, very, very, very expensive jacket.
But in May, the media were ready to erect a guillotine after they saw Ann Romney, the wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, appear on television in a blouse that cost about one-seventh as much as Mrs. Obama’s attire.
Now, nothing is said, as Tim Graham of Newsbusters.org noted. Mrs. Obama’s jacket was “princely,” but Mrs. Romney was “tone deaf” on the blouse.
Two Women, Two Standards
The "Reliable Source," a gossip column in the Washington Post, reported on Mrs. Obama’s nearly $10,000 jacket this way:
Michelle Obama has been criticized for not dressing up enough for Queen Elizabeth II, so she stepped up her game Friday night at an Olympics reception for heads of state at Buckingham Palace. The first lady wore a very fancy J. Mendel capsleeve jacket — “white viscose techno crepe tailored jacket with overlapped side panels and silver embroidery” from the 2013 Resort collection, according to a press release from the company. It’s not in stores yet, but high-end retailer Moda Operandi listed the jacket at a princely $6,800. The White House declined to comment.
After the White House “declined to comment,” so apparently, did most of the mainstream media.
Ann Romney, who struggles with multiple sclerosis, was afforded no such slack. Instead of giving Mrs. Romney a cute squib in the gossip column when she appeared on the CBS Morning News in a $990 blouse from designer Reed Krakoff, the Post offered this headline: “Ann Romney's $990 T-shirt is indicative of a tone-deaf campaign.”
“The very wealthy Mitt and Ann Romney have often been painted as out of touch with average Americans,” wrote columnist Suzi Parker in the newspaper’s “She the People” feature. “Ann’s pricey shirt will not help her husband change those perceptions, no matter how many Laundromat photo ops are on the campaign’s daily itinerary.”
On Tuesday Ann wore a colorful silk T-shirt with a large bird print by Reed Krakoff during an interview with her and her husband on CBS’s “This Morning.” Fashion blogs quickly tracked down the “The Reed Audubon Silk Shirt” and noted the whopping price tag.
After tossing in the obligatory quote from an Obama “ally” that “Ann Romney should be off limits,” Parker continued: “The Obama campaign may be playing nice, but that doesn’t mean the American people will. Will the $990 T-shirt remind people of past presidential faux pas, such as John McCain’s confusion in 2008 about how many houses he owned?” she wrote. Then Parker trotted out Meghan McCain, the leftist daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.):
McCain’s daughter Meghan, an MSNBC contributor, said Wednesday night on host Lawrence O’Donnell’s “The Last Word,” that Ann should be a bit more careful in her choices.
“She needs to be a little more cognizant of the message she’s trying to put out, just given the economic recession that we’re in and everything that’s going on,” Meghan McCain said.
Some Americans might be thinking that the $1,000 spent on one shirt could help them out with a house payment or buy necessities at Walmart. Others are counting exactly how many T-shirts that amount would buy at Target, where first lady Michelle Obama said she often shops.
Just to look credible, Parker admitted that critics had attacked Mrs. Obama for some of her wardrobe choices, but then she went after both Romneys. “Last week, Mitt Romney encouraged Ohio students to borrow from their parents to start a business,” she wrote.
He used the Jimmy John sandwich chain founder, Jimmy John Liautaud, as an example. Liautaud had borrowed $25,000 from his father in order to get his first restaurant off the ground.
How many people have that kind of money lying around to invest in their kid’s start-up?
Then came the inevitable discussion of Ann Romney’s Cadillacs and Romney’s $10,000 bet with Texas Gov. Rick Perry during the GOP candidates’ debate in Iowa in December. “What a high roller that Romney is,” Parker snarked. “Most Americans would make a $5 bet while enjoying a $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon, Mitt.”
Parker, like myriad other commentators in the mainstream media, is looking at presidential politics with a very liberal bias. Illustrative of Parker's bias is her book, Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt. Here is some of the blurb from Publisher’s Weekly:
The South is a veritable sexual smorgasbord, with its Passion Parties ("think 1970s Tupperware parties but with rubber ******* instead of plastic ice trays"), Iron Belles (for "muscle fantasy"), bondage and s&m clubs, aqua porn, swingers parties, strip clubs and BBW (Big Beautiful Women) parties. The South may look straight-laced, Parker admits, but the same ladies trying and buying [sex toys] at Passion Parties in Maumelle, Ark., are also reading the Christian apocalyptic Left Behind novels and going to church every Sunday. For better or worse, Parker’s no social scientist, so she's quick to ditch her hook (the religion vs. hot sex problem) in favor of wide-eyed voyeurism.… Parker interviews a host of sexually adventurous people (mostly heterosexual white women) who are grateful the Internet has helped them connect with like-minded fetishists and pleased that their sex lives have become more fun or more profitable. Curiously, the last stop on Parker's erotic odyssey is a pilgrimage to Gennifer Flowers's bar for a GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi, trans-gender) literary soiree that only leaves Parker fantasizing about Clinton.
According to the book’s dust jacket, “The American South … is an anachronistic land where gentlemen and ladies live lives governed entirely by genteel manners and the Good Book.” But “peel back the seersucker and organdy exterior, though, and you’ll find another world entirely. A world of public propriety, and private libertinism; where rectitude rules from Sunday to Friday, but sin rides on Saturday night.”
Moral repression often breeds sexual creativity, and nowhere is that more true than in the South. Join Suzi Parker on a private journey to an eccentric side of sin where Southerners secretly (and not-so-secretly) defy sexual convention. In a region where towns often have more churches than liquor stores, you’ll encounter a host of unforgettable characters.
Enter the world of two Texas grandmothers who teach wives how to strip for their husbands. Go undercover and sneak into the secret world of Alabama’s thriving BDSM scene. And you’ll never ever forget Trigger, the Human Equine.
One wonders how many belts Madame Parker has unbuckled, but at any rate her other lasting contribution to literature is 1000 Best Bartender Recipes.
Another line of attack from the Left has been Mrs. Romney’s participation in dressage, an equestrian sport that requires rider and horse to perform a veritable ballet.
Mrs. Romney uses the sport, partly, as therapy for the MS that afflicts her. But that didn’t stop the leftists at the Democratic National Committee from using footage of Mrs. Romney's horse to attack her husband as “dancing around the issues.” The dressage scenes, of course, reinforced the message that Romney is a Richie Rich who can’t sympathize with the little guy.
That the horse, Rafalca, made the trip to London for the Olympics was even more fodder for the Left. Said a spokesman for Moveon.Org, “The Romneys’ dancing Olympic horse gets better health care than many Americans, and Mitt Romney is campaigning to take away people’s health care. If he wants wealthy horse owners like himself to get more tax privileges and for teachers and firefighters to be laid off to pay for it, we’re going to point that out.”
Photo of Michelle Obama in $6,800 jacket: AP Images