Tag Archives: Kellyanne Conway

The Making Up of a President … and His Staff

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Laurie and Debbie say:

Makeup may seem like an odd topic for a blog with its roots (and its heart) in body image. However, makeup is a form of body expression–although mediated in many ways by looksism and beauty culture–and people are entitled to their own choices around body expression. Makeup is also commonly used by many people who spend a lot of time in the public eye, and especially people who are frequently televised.

Makeup is also one of the places where our body image interests and our revulsion at the current D.C. power structure intersect.  So we are interested in Sarah Graalman’s “Makeup Anxiety During the Trump Times” post on Medium.

Graalman writes primarily about makeup issues with Trump himself,

Trump is orange and his hair is famously peroxide blonde. He rocks a fake-tan like a star from the 80’s who can’t let that go. Have you ever really looked at the whites around his eyes? Chances are those lighter patches are the result of tanning bed goggles. We have a bronzer addict running the country, and I have very strong opinions about bronzer addicts. I’ve rarely ever met one who doesn’t have a disjointed view of who they are or nurse a strange self-image. Sometimes that self-image is inflated. … He likely reached his physical and sexual (sorry) prime in the 80’s, and though his power has skyrocketed to his being the most powerful man in America. It seems he is still chasing the dragon of his 80’s Trump facade. Why else would he still emulate that 80’s bronze glow?

It’s not news to anyone that Trump’s self-image is inflated and that he’s stuck in an earlier era. Still, it’s informative that he’s apparently a make-up “type,” and Graalman could figure out these things about him without other information.

While Graalman is clearly prepared to dislike and distrust Trump, she saves her detailed makeup analysis for Kellyanne Conway. No surprise, she goes into a lot more detail about Conway, and shows more than a touch of sexism in her assumptions that Conway (1) does her own makeup, and (2) isn’t good at it. However, anyone who sees Conway on TV knows that something is wrong, and Graalman helps analyze the problems:

When someone of significant stature appears on a network, that network supplies an artist, or they will pay for the cost of one. I’m occasionally that artist in the wings at CNN with a personality on a publicity tour. Sometimes I show up to studios, and they have ANOTHER artist there on staff, just in case. It seems rare that any artist is doing the work. Yes, I’ve found a few instances where Conway is done and it looks fabulous. She isn’t obligated to look ‘done’ if that isn’t how she wants to be seen. But she’s putting on a lot, so she’s trying. She’s rejecting the use of a professional makeup artist.

Kellyanne Conway and even *sigh* Donald Trump have an inalienable right to look how they want to look, and to present themselves to the public in whatever way suits them. If Conway thinks she looks terrific, and we think she looks like she’s about to star in Night of the Living Dead, she gets to be the judge.

But maybe, just maybe, Trump’s attitude toward makeup and how he looks, and Conway’s style in presenting Trump’s choices, are emblematic of how the administration is “running” the country. Here’s Graalman’s conclusion.

They’re on our TV constantly. They are running our country. I’d love to give them some HD powder and proper concealer. If only they trusted the experts.

IF ONLY THEY TRUSTED THE EXPERTS. It’s not just about makeup any more.

Living in Weimar 3: How Bad Can It Get?

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Laurie and Debbie say:

Living in Weimar 1: On the Brink

Living in Weimar 2: Creative Ferment

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Donald Trump, as cataclysmically bad a president as he would be, is not Adolf Hitler. And the U.S. in 2016 is not Germany, or Weimar, in the early 1930s. However, the parallels are significant, and worth comparing.

Here’s some of how Hitler came to power in Weimar, and later in all of Germany:

… on 30 January 1933 Hindenburg accepted the new Papen-Nationalist-Hitler coalition, with the Nazis holding only three of eleven Cabinet seats: Hitler as Chancellor, Wilhelm Frick as Minister of the Interior and Hermann Göring as Minister Without Portfolio. … Hitler refused [the Catholic Centre party] leader’s demands for constitutional “concessions” (amounting to protection) and planned for dissolution of the Reichstag [Weimar parliament] .

Hindenburg, despite his misgivings about the Nazis’ goals and about Hitler as a personality, reluctantly agreed to Papen’s theory that, with Nazi popular support on the wane, Hitler could now be controlled as Chancellor. This date, dubbed by the Nazis as the Machtergreifung (seizure of power), is commonly seen as the beginning of Nazi Germany.

So, Hitler had nothing like majority support, and the power he wielded was his refusal to compromise and his single-minded plan to rule the country. That was enough.

Trump has nothing like majority support either, as evidenced by the polls. What he does have is refusal to compromise (well, he kind of compromises one day and he walks it back the next) and a single-minded plan to be in charge. He also has a very early narrative about how the election will be “rigged,” which will help fire up his supporters in the event he loses.

Last week, Trump brought in Stephen Bannon as “campaign CEO” and Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager. Conway–if you can describe a Trump supporter in these terms–is apparently a comparatively level-headed, somewhat analytical Republican pollster. Bannon is something else altogether. Bannon comes from breitbart.com, a virulently right-wing racist anti-Semitic and misogynist website, the home of the “alt-right”. “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?” is a real Breitbart headline.  In 2015, Joshua Green at Bloomberg Politics called Bannon “the most dangerous political operative in America.”

When former Disney chief Michael Ovitz’s empire was falling to pieces, Bannon sat Ovitz down in his living room and delivered the news that he was finished. When Sarah Palin was at the height of her fame, Bannon was whispering in her ear. When Donald Trump decided to blow up the Republican presidential field, Bannon encouraged his circus-like visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. John Boehner just quit as House speaker because of the mutinous frenzy Bannon and his confederates whipped up among conservatives. Today, backed by mysterious investors and a stream of Seinfeld royalties, he sits at the nexus of what Hillary Clinton once dubbed “the vast right-wing conspiracy,” 

Bannon has a history of domestic violence, and his ex-wife says that he “objected to sending their twin daughters to an elite Los Angeles academy because he ‘didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”

So, here we are. Trump has made his bed with the alt-right, underscoring the anti-woman, anti-people of color, anti-immigrant basis of his campaign. He is proud of his hateful positions, and he is using them to gain and use power. If he loses in November, his supporters and the alt-right are still going to have more strength and more power than they did a year ago, and they are still going to try to stop President Hillary Clinton at every turn.

Although Trump is not Hitler, one of the lessons of Weimar is that we can’t afford to forget how far the politics of hate can go.