Dana Milbank of the Washington Post scored Wednesday’s Obamacare hearing at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce a win for Secretary for Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Not because of what she said–she apologized for a “debacle,” after all–but because of how she said it. And, of course–because of how she looked! Suddenly it’s acceptable to grade women on manners and appearance, not competence.
In Milbank’s own words: “Sebelius, in a gray pinstriped jacket, her white hair well-coiffed and her fingernails manicured, was generally poised, keeping her voice measured even though Republican lawmakers took photos of her with their phones, and their staff members, lined up against a wall, laughed and applauded when their bosses scored points.” (It was rather funny when she claimed healthcare.gov “never crashed.”)
In scoring Sebelius on appearance, Milbank joins David Brooks of the New York Times, who once swooned over Barack Obama’s “perfectly creased pant.” It says something about the Beltway commentariat that they are so focused on the superficial, to the exclusion of the substantial–to the detriment of Sarah Palin, whom neither Brooks nor Milbank can abide. Milbank once joked that her accent “violates the Geneva Accords.” Har-har.