Remember John Edwards’ $400 haircuts in the 2008 presidential campaign? Edwards was criticized for these while building a 28,000-square-foot mansion and vowing to reduce poverty.
Little did anyone know then that the incongruency of care for the poor while enjoying the perks of luxury was a warning sign that Edwards was living a life of facades.
John Edwards is a fake. That we know now. He tried to hide the truth of his love child with Rielle Hunter while seeking the most public position in the world — the presidency.
Today, Edwards is a political ghost. He has no future. He is one person that Republicans and Democrats can openly agree to disdain.
The false image that Edwards tried to project was a joke. Yet in 2012, there is another presidential candidate inordinately focused on appearances — Michele Bachmann.
During the debate in Iowa a couple of weeks ago, Bachmann would leave during commercial breaks to have her makeup touched up. One time she was even late returning to the debate. Her quick makeup sessions gathered some snickers, but nothing like Edwards’ haircuts.
In another incident, reporters were discouraged from taking photos of her in khaki cargo pants or other “casual clothes.”
There is another situation regarding her appearance. It bears a remarkable similarity to Edwards’ self-absorption. During June, Bachmann spent $4,700 on a hairstylist and makeup.
For politicians, image is crucial. Expensive haircuts, makeup and professional stylists are part of the package of being a presidential candidate. Yet there is something wrong here.
If $4,700 makeovers are acceptable for a female presidential candidate but $400 haircuts for male presidential candidates are excessive, then we really haven’t reached gender equality in politics.
Just imagine if John Edwards ducked behind scenes during the breaks in his debates to have his hair combed. The outrage would be enormous.
Bachmann spends what would be a comfortable monthly wage for the average American on her hair and makeup, but she receives only slight criticism.
It might be that Bachmann should not be blamed for her obsession about appearance. If America thinks $4,700 is a non-issue, then Bachmann better play it up. If her hair is out of place or her makeup streaks, she will undoubtedly be the butt of many late-night comedian jokes.
It is almost enough to have some sympathy for her. Voters expect a perfectly coiffed candidate. Bachmann must oblige that expectation.
Except when Bachmann has an aversion to being photographed in casual wear, then the image she is trying to project is not one of just trying to be an attractive candidate. She is trying to make herself appear as someone she is not, whatever that might be.
Even Mitt Romney has been photographed in casual wear. His campaign has not put the lid on those photos.
Add in those multiple touchups on her makeup during the Iowa GOP debate, and Bachmann begins to appear to be a lot like Edwards — all image, little substance.
Americans like a president who can relate to the average voter on the street. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were often photographed in casual wear. Clinton would sometimes pop into a fast food joint for a snack. He was like the guy down the street. Both Bush and Ronald Reagan spent time at their ranches, cutting brush and working like any typical American man.
Edwards, on the other hand, was slick. That is one of the reasons that his campaign could not bust out as the frontrunner. Behind the slick, carefully crafted image was Edwards the jerk. It seems so apparent now. Edwards was a crafted image of a pretty boy wonder, but everything inside him was rotten.
Bachmann has that same crafted image, and her bills make Edwards’ self-indulgent splurges look like exercises in penny-pinching. She may not be hiding the dark secrets that Edwards did, but her obsession is also a bit too slick.
The problem is that may be what Americans look for in a female candidate — a pretty face, fancy hair and impeccable makeup. It would be much more comforting if there was an outrage over Bachmann’s $4,700 beautician bill. At least then American voters would not be seeing the presidential election as a fashion show. Unfortunately, there is no outrage, and a fashion show is what the presidency has become.