Romney took the stage wearing a formal white shirt, blue tie and no jacket. Conveying the ease of a man wearing a cervical halo, Romney greeted the audience and after brief remarks, and a slip-of-the-tongue that had him referring to Ryan as the next “president” of the United States, the congressman bounded forth.I had to look up "cervical halo." (Clue: It's not something religious— nothing about Mormons! — and it's not something uterine — nothing about the war on women.)
Ryan wore a dark suit—of the extra-roomy variety—and an open-collared white shirt. A rather large flag pin decorated his jacket lapel. He was dressed in the uniform that President Barack Obama popularized during the 2008 campaign. Obama wore the tieless black suit whenever he was looking to convey authority and gravitas in an informal situation. It was his go-to look for late night talk shows, for instance. Obama accessorized this look with cool, with nonchalance. Ryan prefers the aw-shucks understatement of an earnestly furrowed brow.Aw-shucks? What's aw-shucks about Paul Ryan? "Shucks" — according to the Urban Dictionary — is a "backwoods" interjection. Obama has "authority and gravitas" wearing exactly the same thing as Ryan, because Obama brings "cool," but Ryan brings "aw shucks." Givhan is subtly approaching the line of racial stereotypes, isn't she? No, she's not. She's already labeled Romney and Ryan "white guys" (and she'll end the column by calling them "white guys" again).
[A]s a pure visual, the image of the two men on stage in Norfolk, Virginia lacked dazzle or texture. It was a bit like seeing double.These white guys all look alike. Oh? Am I being unfair? Givhan already called them "look-alike white guys." They don't look much alike to me. Ryan has strikingly blue eyes, a 5-o'clock shadow, a young man's cropped haircut, and an earnestly furrowed brow that reminds me of John Roberts. Romney has hazel eyes (not so striking, since I had to look that up), a very clean-shaven face, and an older man's long-on-top, combed-straight-back hair.
The combination of their matching white shirts and black trousers—plus one jacket and one tie—meant that any hint of personal style was lost in a mish-mash of menswear remnants.Givhan wants to say they are over-controlled in their hair and their clothes, but the facts don't fit the preferred template. Neither man wore a business get-up, and each man stepped down from that level in his own way — Romney by leaving off the jacket and rolling up the sleeves and Ryan by not wearing a tie and opening the collar. It was a nice, casual coordination, but political preference grips Givhan and she won't admit it.
Givhan complains that the TV cameras didn't let us see Ryan's children:
The moment could have benefited from a loose shot of a tow-headed kid making a silly face or flashing a charming grin—an image that would connect something unscripted and personal to Ryan.And what would Givhan have said about those kids if only she could have seen them? Would she have enthused about their charm and silliness? Or would she have seen them as over-controlled, stiff conservatives? Recall how she treated the children (and wife) of now-Chief Justice John Roberts, back in 2005:
His wife and children stood before the cameras, groomed and glossy in pastel hues -- like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers. There was tow-headed Jack -- having freed himself from the controlling grip of his mother -- enjoying a moment in the spotlight dressed in a seersucker suit with short pants and saddle shoes. His sister, Josie, was half-hidden behind her mother's skirt. Her blond pageboy glistened. And she was wearing a yellow dress with a crisp white collar, lace-trimmed anklets and black patent-leather Mary Janes....ADDED: It's telling that she used "tow-headed" in both columns.
And through their clothes choices, the parents have created the kind of honeyed faultlessness that jams mailboxes every December when personalized Christmas cards arrive bringing greetings "to you and yours" from the Blake family or the Joneses. Everyone looks freshly scrubbed and adorable, just like they have stepped from a Currier & Ives landscape....