August 12, 2007

The new Bloggingheads: Robin Givhan and me!

What can we talk about?
Can we talk about Hillary's cleavage? (10:57)

Color scheming: Gore's earth tones, Hillary's pink (09:06)

Feeling the fury of the Clinton campaign (08:12)

The Business Suit as pinnacle of Western civilization (04:08)

Caught in Jeri Thompson's headlights (05:42)

Michelle Obama and the natural look (05:37)

Crocs, codpieces, and $60 million pants (09:38)

34 comments:

Verso said...

Boy Ann, you worked really hard for the first 30 minutes to get Robin to say something, anything that would explode into controversy. All your planning and scheming, all those prepared questions, the repeated attempts to make Robin feel victimized and put-upon, and you got nothing!

She must have known what you were up to.

dmfoiemjsof said...

You didn't talk about shorts?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Verso is wearing shorts.

Palladian said...

"Verso is wearing shorts."

As long as he's covering his Recto...

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian... cleverest comment ever.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ann Althouse said...

It's got a Robin Givhan tag.

I was sticking to recent columns with my questions... but you're right that the John Roberts one was controversial. Also the Condi Rice one.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ron said...

hmmm...check out the ending of Swing Time for laughter about pants and cuffs...

Even when I was thin, I never looked good in a suit...

Meade said...

And we, your fans, expect and admire you for it, Ruth Anne.

Just in case anyone was wondering: yes, I always suit up in a nicely tailored tux before coming here to leave comments. Always.

Only when reading the Drudge Report do I wear my Eldridge Cleaver codpiece and crocs.

Meade said...

Update: I admit, though, I do wear my vegan black Earth Shoes with my nicely tailored tux. I can only take uncomfortable classy so far, ya know.

ricpic said...

It's no accident that the other name for casual clothes is soft clothes. The business suit may be the pinnacle of Western Civilization but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who isn't relieved to shed the whole constricting construction after being enclosed in one for an extended period of time.

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: Oh, I see, you mean the old post from pre-tagging days.... That's a HUGE project.

Simon said...

Ohmidgod, she has, like, THE most annoying voice. TO-tally. Ya Wanna go to the maaaall?

amba said...

Haven't watched it yet, but what a great idea! Did you take it to them? Was Robin quick to agree?

Eli Blake said...

You know, I have to admit that I feel very uncomfortable with how much emphasis we put on appearance (especially television appearance) instead of substance.

Had today's attitudes about style vs. substance prevailed in the past, one can only conclude that Lincoln (who was notoriously bad looking but deflected it with some self-deprecating humor) would never have beaten Douglas, likely the South would be a whole other country (maybe still having a Jim Crow or apartheid type system), Theodore Roosevelt would have been elected as a third party candidate in 1912 (and knowing Teddy would have launched a full scale invasion, conquest and occupation of Mexico to catch Pancho Villa instead of just sending Pershing), Herbert Hoover (a dapper man) might have held on against FDR (I tremble to think of both the national and global consequences of that), slick Thomas Dewey really would have beaten plain Harry Truman (would Dewey the until recent isolationist have sent troops to Korea or recognized Israel?) and Richard Nixon would have been the President during the Cuban missle crisis instead of John F. Kennedy.

I do of course realize that with the rush to the front, Presidential campaigns begin the day after the last election and we have months of space to fill, but is it healthy to fill it with endless discussions of hairstyles, suits and shirts?

Then again, consider our own chief executive, caught with the doors open in public.

Paddy O. said...

Eli,
It's not exactly a new thing to notice appearance.

I think the danger comes in noticing only appearance. Lincoln and the rest had wit, or charm, or bravado, or something else that added to their overall impression.

Though, even Lincoln was willing to take advice to improve his look. Hence the whiskers, as recommended by an appearance aware girl.

Eli Blake said...

whoops, I got turned around on that last one.

Kennedy was President during the Cuban missile crisis BECAUSE of style.

Eli Blake said...

Paddy O:

True. One of my favorite quotes by Lincoln (paraphrased) was:

My opponent has called me two-faced. I submit to you, in my own defense, that if I had two faces, would I wear this one?

Eli Blake said...
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Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Amba, yes, it was my idea, from BEFORE the cleavage column.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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LoafingOaf said...

Givhan stresses she did not find the "cleavage" unseemly, inappropriate, embarrassing, or unprofessional at all. Instead, she found the "subtle" display somewhat interesting considering who it was, and part of her reaction was that it was "quite wonderful" to see Hillary acknowledging her sexuality while discussing education on the Senate floor.

Althouse initially described it as Hillary "flaunting" her tits, and in the comments to that post said:

Dressing in a professional manner and avoiding revealing clothing is not something a woman does out of shame. It represents an intelligent decision to concentrate attention on your professional role and to minimize distracting sexual thoughts in the person you want to communicate with. A woman isn't "ashamed" of her breasts simply because she's decided to make them not the center of attention.

It sounds like Althouse found Hillary's outfit with a slight v-neck way more intentional and flaunting a display than Givhan did, and also unprofessional, but backed away from that view in the bloggingheads convo. Or am I misunderstanding? Or maybe Givhan is now backing away from her original view, which she called a provocation.

I also still fail to understand how Hillary intended to manipulate the whole country by wearing a subtle v-neck on CSPAN2. Givhan's job is to cover the fashions of politicians and she even says she wouldn't have known about it had someone at the paper whose job it is to monitor CSPAN2 not told her about it, and if that hadn't happened...none of us would have seen it or thought about it for one second.

I'm glad Givhan clarified the unzipped fly comparisan, which I did find odd but I understand better now.

-----

I fast-forwarded to the end because I found Givhan's voice as annoying as Simon (and it reminded me of the voice of that woman Althouse had a little fight with some weeks back). At the end Althouse goes into her peeve about shorts again. It sounds like Althouse is really just talking about dorky shorts. There's lots of cool-ass shorts in the stores that are not just comfy but also look good.

I don't think people in shorts are trying to look like kids, though why should people be in a hurry to be so "grown up". What does that mean? Saying stuff like, "If I ever did smoke weed it was over 30 years ago", and now just taking a few sips from a glass of 50 dollar wine? You can leave that to the Starbucks crowd trying hard to look sophisticated to the yuppies with carefully displayed IPhones and NY Times crosswords on their tables before meditating at the zen garden at the Robert Redford arthouse theater. To each their own.

Sheepman said...

I enjoyed this blogginghead episode, even though I tend to dismiss fashion as being trivial.

There may be some merit in the point about older men who prefer "informal" clothing to suits as suffering from a Peter Pan complex. But I think comfort, cost and convenience plays a big role here. Most men just don't care enough about fashion to spend a lot of time and cost on their wardrobe.

mythusmage said...

I'm posting this comment in the nude because, while anybody can look dignified in formal wear, it takes talent to look dignified in the buff. :P

amba said...

Wow! Who knew Robin was black? (Everybody but me, possibly?) And so young, and attractive, and intellectual-looking. I don't know that her voice is annoying. I like her laugh.

amba said...

Her voice just sounds like all young people her age -- it's that L.A. TV accent, vaguely Valley Girl.

Ann Althouse said...

I think she was born in 1965, but I agree that is young!

Ann Althouse said...

"There's lots of cool-ass shorts in the stores that are not just comfy but also look good."

But if you don't have a cool ass in your cool-ass shorts, you're not going to look too cool.

bill said...

Age of scrutiny

From Interface, a political conspiracy/satire novel by Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George (originally published under the name Stephen Bury).

Cy Ogle is a political media consultant explaining his philosophy. This is excerpted from a conversation ranging over four pages.

In the 1700s, politics was all about the ideas. But Jefferson came up with all the good ideas. In the 1800s, it was all about character. But no one will ever have as much character as Lincoln and Lee. For much of the 1900s it was about charisma. But we no longer trust charisma because Hitler used it to kill Jews and JFK used it to get laid and send us to Vietnam.

Today, we are in the Age of Scrutiny. A public figure must withstand the scrutiny of the media. The President is the ultimate public figure and must stand up under ultimate scrutiny; he is like a man stretched out on a rack in the public square in some medieval shithole of a town, undergoing the rigors of the Inquisition. Like the medieval trial by ordeal, the Age of Scrutiny sneers at rational inquiry and debate, and presumes that mere oaths and protestations are deceptions and lies. The only way to discover the real truth is by the rite of the ordeal, which exposes the subject to such inhuman strain that any defect in his character will cause him to crack wide open, like a flawed diamond. It is a mystical procedure that skirts rationality, which is seen as the work of the Devil, instead drawing down a higher, ineffable power. Like the Roman haruspex who foretold the outcome of a battle, not by analyzing the strengths of the opposing forces but by groping through the steaming guts of a slaughtered ram, we seek to establish a candidate's fitness for office by pinning him under the lights of a television studio and counting the number of times he blinks his eyes in a minute, deconstructing his use of eye contact, monitoring his gesticulations--whether his hands are held open or closed, towards or away from the camera, spread open forthcomingly or clenched like grasping claws.

I paint a depressing picture here. But we, you and I, are like the literate monks who nurtured the flickering flame of Greek rationality through the Dark Ages, remaining underground, knowing each other by secret signs and code words, meeting in cellars and thickets to exchange our dangerous and subversive ideas. We do not have the strength to change the minds of the illiterate multitude. But we do have the wit to exploit their foolishness, to familiarize ourselves with their stunted thought patterns, and to use that knowledge to manipulate them toward the goals that we all know are, quote, right and true, unquote...

...A human being cannot with the scrutiny given to a presidential candidate, any more than a human being could survive the medieval trial by fire, in which he was forced to walk barefoot across hot coals....

Anyone can walk barefoot across hot coals. But you have to do it right. There's a trick to it. If you know the trick, you can survive. Now, back in medieval times, some people got lucky and happened to stumble across this trick, and they made it. The rest failed. It was therefore an essentially random process, hence irrational. But if they had had fire-walking seminars in the Dark Ages, anyone could have done it.

The same thing used to apply to the modern trial by ordeal. Abe Lincoln would never have been elected to anything, because random genetic chance gave him a user-unfriendly face. But as a rational person I can learn all of the little tricks and teach them to my friends, eliminating the the random, hence irrational elements from the modern trial by ordeal. I have the knowledge to guide a presidential candidate through his trial in this, the Age of Scrutiny.

Simon said...

amba said...
"Her voice just sounds like all young people her age -- it's that L.A. TV accent, vaguely Valley Girl."

Just because something is widespread doesn't make it any more pleasant or endurable. ;)

dick said...

Conversely if you don't have a cool ass in your long pants you are not going to look too cool there either.

When it is hot and humid out, as it tends to get here in NYC, and when I see the women who should never wear tight, low cut denims out there in droves, screw 'em, I am going to be comfortable in my knee length shorts and the h#ll with the rest of the world. When they pay my bills and my rent and buy my food, I will listen; until then, not so much.