09 Jun 2008

Obama as Democrat Party’s Trophy Wife

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Elizabeth Scalia explains, at PJM, how the democrats’ choice of new Obama over old Hillary tends to strike women as a painfully familiar story.

A trophy wife, of course, is the younger, less shopworn, unlined, doe-eyed, and sometimes opportunistic woman some middle-aged men marry upon achieving the measure of worldly success that puts them in more “elite” company. Mixing with a “higher caliber” of people, such men know what they wish to present to the world: energy, a tuned-in trendiness, a certain sleekness of manner, and above all, youth! If they can’t quite project all of that with their comb-overs, their sagging jowls, and their reading glasses, why, a pretty young wife and pretty young children are just the accessories to help the illusion along.

To the curb goes the first wife, who worked his way through college, raised the children, kept the house tidy, blended the families, and played hostess to the bosses and hangers-on; she made him look good. The first wife laughed at the stale jokes, refilled the glasses, endured the late nights alone, and gazed in dewy-eyed worship as he took his bows. She learned to turn a blind eye to his follies — and perhaps his fillies — in the belief that one day it would all pay off. She believed in him and all he stood for; she espoused his cause and made his arguments, only to discover that if she Botoxed herself into mummification and submitted to looking as perpetually surprised as Nancy Pelosi, she was still a middle-aged woman — a little too wise and weary to impress his new, superficial friends, or to be impressed by them, and not terribly interested in a helpmeet/sidekick do-over.

Upon taking control of Congress in 2007, the Democrats found themselves running simpatico with those terminally elite nations who sniffed with disdain at American individualism while being strangled by the tentacles of their own statism. Emboldened by these openly chummy alliances, and sensing a GOP in the mood to slit its own wrists and die, the Democrats looked across the breakfast table at Hillary Clinton in her sensible clothes and felt a little disappointed. There she sat — a hard worker, smart, always willing to do what it took to win. By and large, she’d been a good helper, delivering the pretty little votes, raising the pretty big dollars, entertaining, organizing, laughing, gazing, and lying when she had to, for the good of the family.

But in the dazzling company of the left-elites, she looked … old, and worn. She could be a little shrill, and a terror with a lamp or an ashtray. She was shrewish and nagging — forever reminding everyone that she had sacrificed. If some smiled to see her arrive at a party, the smile was perfunctory; they only listened to her tiresome policy talk until they could murmur an excuse and find a prettier, livelier corner with prettier, livelier companions.

Then they spotted — Obama! He was young, pretty, and had a pleasing voice. He looked good in jeans and had just a touch of edginess about him when he smoked. He seemed born to be looked at. Not much real experience in the hard political world — a few turns around the dance floor with glamorous-seeming men — but he appeared eager to learn, eager to get ahead, and because he stood for almost nothing, he would be easy to lead. He hadn’t accomplished much of note, but trophy wives don’t need thick resumes.

As a trophy wife, Obama would be content to let the Democrats pull out of Iraq; Hillary might actually suggest they stay. Obama would be able to sell the socialized health care Hillary couldn’t pull off. Most importantly, Obama would schmooze and photo-op with the elites for whose approval the Democrats so desperately yearned; Hillary was untrustworthy, there. She might snub Ahmadinejad and, like Bill Clinton before her, pledge to jump into a trench with a rifle to defend Israel. Obama would smile and look good while doing neither.

Putting both to the scales, light Obama rose in the balance; Hillary was judged too heavy. The Democrats threw over the tried and true to go with the trophy wife. The one they could train and show off to the world as “theirs,” who was the very image of everything they hope to project about themselves, regardless of the realities.

When Obama first came on the scene, former CBS news editor Dick Meyer called him a Rorschach test, on whom the electorate could project whatever they wished to see. Some saw — and see — those nebulous words that can mean anything. Hope! Change! Peace! My best self!


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