"Folks want to be able to envision someone sitting in the Oval Office," writes The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart of Sarah Palin's Newsweek cover. "They don't necessarily want to envision [a president] in the pages of Esquire magazine's "Sexiest Woman Alive 2011"? or Maxim."
The comparison seems like a stretch. But accurate or not, Capehart's contention is sure to spark controversy.
He goes on to add that Palin "can't possibly be taken seriously as a presidential contender dressed like that, especially since this is the second time she has given Newsweek a less-than-presidential pose."
Note: The other Newsweek cover Capehart references was intended only for Runner's Worldmagazine. A photographer leaked the photos, and Palin later called Newsweek's use of them "sexist."
It immediately reminded me of something I read in a pre-feminism Keith Laumer science fiction story, in which a secretary has been accused by an alien of "flaunting" parts of her anatomy that aliens aren't interested in:
"Mr. Retief," she said from above, "do you think I flaunt my ah . . ."
"Certainly not, Miss Braswell. They flaunt themselves."
No possible picture of Palin can stop her looking like that. She can't help it.
Jonathan Capehart is a gay black man living in the District of Columbia. His opinion of how normal Americans will react to a photo like this is not likely to be useful. Oh, and there is an explicit double standard here—Candidate Obama allowed himself to be photographed shirtless bodysurfing in Hawaii.
I don't know what Capehart envisioned when he saw that, and I don't want to.