Maureen Dowd : Bicep Babe

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

…..David Brooks and I were sharing a cab to the British Embassy the other day to meet with Gordon Brown.  The dour prime minister was a blithe spirit despite a mutinous British press corps that was whingeing about the president snubbing the prime minister.  First, President Obama sent back the bust of Winston Churchill that Tony Blair lent to W.; then the White House downgraded the “special relationship” to a “special partnership.”  The Rose Garden press conference where Mr. Brown was going to stand “podium-to-podium with the Messiah,” as one British scribe dryly put it, was demoted to a “press availability” in the Oval.  Then the president offered a lame present of DVDs — including “Psycho” — in return for the prime minister’s cool gift of a pen holder made from the wood of the Victorian antislave vessel H.M.S. Gannet.  Critics wondered if the brusqueness was because, as Mr. Obama wrote in “Dreams From My Father,” his grandfather was beaten by British colonial troops in Kenya.  The press also conjured paranoia that the president’s “Lady MacBeth” had been behind the clipped treatment because, as James Delingpole snipped in a Telegraph blog, “Her broad-brush view of history associates Brits with the wicked white global hegemony responsible for the slave trade.”

…..Wall Street is weak and jittery, rejecting the vague and laconic courtship of Timothy Geithner.  G.M. is verging on bankruptcy, and A.I.G. should be. Americans are confused and fretful.  President Obama admitted in his Times interview that the United States is not winning the war in Afghanistan, even as he denied — and then called back 90 minutes later to really deny — that he’s a socialist.  Let’s face it: The only bracing symbol of American strength right now is the image of Michelle Obama’s sculpted biceps.  Her husband urges bold action, but it is Michelle who looks as though she could easily wind up and punch out Rush Limbaugh, Bernie Madoff and all the corporate creeps who ripped off America.  In the taxi, when I asked David Brooks about her amazing arms, he indicated it was time for her to cover up.  “She’s made her point,” he said.  “Now she should put away Thunder and Lightning.”  I’d seen the plaint echoed elsewhere.  “Someone should tell Michelle to mix up her wardrobe and cover up from time to time,” Sandra McElwaine wrote last week on The Daily Beast.  Washington is a place where people have always been suspect of style and overt sexuality.  Too much preening signals that you’re not up late studying cap-and-trade agreements.  David was not smitten by the V-neck, sleeveless eggplant dress Michelle wore at her husband’s address to Congress — the one that caused one Republican congressman to whisper to another, “Babe.”…..David brought up the Obamas’ obsession with their workouts.  “Sometimes I think half the reason Obama ran for president is so Michelle would have a platform to show off her biceps.”…..

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