The presidential package

Us Weekly hits Barack Obama with the hard question: Boxers or briefs?

Published February 28, 2008 3:45PM (EST)

Us Weekly scooped the competition with its interview with Barack Obama this week. The celebrity glossy posed a series of hard-hitting questions, including: His familiarity with Us, his daughters' attitudes toward Ms. Spears (let no Britney angle go unexploited) and that most revealing of all showstoppers: boxers or briefs.

Back in 1994, that iconic question -- posed by a 17-year-old girl to President Clinton on MTV -- created its own minor media whirlpool. Clinton's answer, "Usually briefs," followed by, "I can't believe she did that," was interpreted as another sign that he was just a regular guy, a man who put on his underpants one leg at a time and doesn't pretend otherwise. (Since then another version of the event has gained a foothold in the historical archives -- and Us pages -- putting the moment two years prior when Clinton was a candidate, not president, and changing his answer to the sexier boxers. Paging Dr. Freud!) Possibly hoping to nail that youth vote, presidential hopeful John Kerry exposed even more details about his undergarment choices when he brought along journalists to watch him shop for a jock strap.

Obama's boomerang response offers equal fodder for unseemly probing: "I don't answer those humiliating questions. But whichever one it is, I look good in 'em!"

Is this the Onion? Did he get strategy tips from 50 Cent? I can sympathize with Obama's contradictory reply. On the one hand -- it's a clear slap-down of stupid, invasive questions. On the other hand, he doesn't want to seem too uptight or humorless, so he adds a little flourish of braggadocio.

But where does that leave us? With images of banana hammocks and tighty whiteys dancing in our heads! Pondering the ins and outs of the potential president's package!

And yet, no biggie -- when it comes to sexuality, male candidates can have their cock and strut it, too. If an analogous question were posed to Hillary Clinton, there would no doubt be a different response.

Senator, we were wondering: Underwire or soft cup?

"I won't deign to answer that, but you better believe they look good in whatever I choose." It wouldn't be a one-day news blip but a staggeringly strange faux pas.

By Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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