Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hostess with the Mostess

Roger and I were watching some news program tonight--after a while they all blur together--and part of it was pointing out what unique men both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were. Both were extraordinarily "charismatic." My own memory of each on the public stage is that each possessed the ability to make other people feel at ease, to make other people feel comfortable with themselves--this was at the center of their "charisma." This is a rare quality in a man. Many men interact with other people by projecting their ego outward--I don't mean "ego" in a pejorative sense, just "ego" in its root sense. Men project their own agenda, desires, thoughts, etc., outward at other people with the expectation that others are interested in listening.

Women are, on the whole, trained differently by our culture. We're trained to subsume ego in order to make others comfortable with themselves. This is rarely referred to as "charisma"--typically in women it's described as being a great hostess. Which is why it's hard for female politicians, who must project ego in order to get anything done, or to be a politician at all. How can you operate as a hard-nosed, can-do politician when you're expected to subsume your ego at every turn? You can't always default immediately to compromise mode because that's not how your constituents are best served.

Then there was the spectacle of Hillary Clinton being (justly I thought) ridiculed on the Daily Show tonight for doing an interview with some Entertainment-Tonight-like program, where she was trying to talk "girl talk" with the interviewer (I don't think these people qualify as 'reporters'), about how one decides what to wear in the morning when one gets up, show interest in shoes, make-up issues, etc. Jon Stewart justly made fun of her for pretending to be "Cathy" (remember that comic strip about Cathy, the unmarried office worker?). I lost a bit of respect for Hillary tonight. It's hard enough to get where she's gotten and preserve her personal integrity, and now she has to do a dog and pony show about how she's really just a girl?

And what is it with every politician lately having a "My Space" page? Do I not understand "My Space"? I thought it was a social networking site for teenagers and college students, as well as adult singles and the recently divorced. It has always struck me as a place where you go for hook ups or to re-enact your high school popularity years. Does every politician out there have to revert to being a 15 year old, and talk about their favorite ice cream flavors and pretend they know who the major new groups are featured who are featured on iTunes?

Enough is enough in the annals of fake sincerity. Talk about obnoxiously projecting ego. Show me a politician who can be a great hostess.

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