Calling Hillary Clinton ugly

If you can't get ahead on the issues, try (allegedly) slinging playground jibes!

Published October 23, 2006 9:00PM (EDT)

Apparently, Hillary Rodham Clinton didn't spend quite enough time "smoothing out her rough spots" for John Spencer's liking. Clinton's Republican opponent, in a throwback to his schoolyard days, allegedly remarked to a reporter on a Jet Blue flight to Rochester, N.Y., on Friday, "You ever see a picture of [Clinton] back then? Whew. I don't know why Bill married her." He was quoted in the New York Daily News as speculating that Clinton has had "millions of dollars" worth of plastic surgery.

Spencer has already denied the claims, stating, "It's a fabrication. I would never call Hillary Clinton ugly."

Forget the fact that Spencer's (alleged) low-blow comments rate about a minus .02463 on the maturity scale. Forget also that though Clinton underwent a late-'90s hair-and-clothing upgrade, her face looks utterly unaltered. I just want to know -- whether Spencer made the comments or not -- would we ever in a million years be reading about how ugly or surgery-enhanced a male politician was?

Of course, it is nauseating to be hit with Spencer's (alleged) deeply sexist assumption that a female politico's looks are in any way worthy of discussion on the campaign trail. Also eye-roll inducing is the hint that female power and attractiveness are opposing forces. Perhaps most alarming, though, is that a candidate's looks constitute news only when she is female. Is the GOP fronting a roster of dreamboat candidates? Do you think the Democratic challenger of, say, Dennis Hastert would comment on his less-than-perfect visage during campaign season? In private -- duh. In public -- never.

Sadly (or thankfully), the way a male candidate looks is not news. Even if Hillary Clinton does have the most, er, subtle plastic surgeon in history, what difference does it make? She blew her makeover money at Barney's years ago, guys. Stick to the issues or leave her alone.

By Nona Willis Aronowitz

Nona Willis Aronowitz is a journalist, Roosevelt Institute Pipeline fellow, and co-founder of Tomorrow magazine.

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