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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Tuesday, January 27, 2004


fashion observations done right

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, January 27, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
There have been numerous, painful examples of fashion-critique aimed at presidential candidates. We all remember the earth-tone thing with Gore and more recently the sweater thing with Clark - it's nothing but lazy journalism and worse, it actually dilutes the importance of the political process by dragging it down to the very definition of superficiality.

Today, though, Garance Franke-Ruta does fashion analysis right. Not by inferring from the Doctors Deans' clothes what they are trying to spin, but a simple observation of who they are:

If you've ever spent time in the medical arena you know that being a physician is something very different from being an attorney, which is what John Edwards, John Kerry, and Joe Lieberman are. Your stance to the world is simply different if you're a physician, because -- outside of a few specialties, like plastic surgery -- your power doesn't come from how you look or how you appear or even how you sound. It comes from your knowledge and the capacity to do things no one else is authorized to do in their daily lives -- to touch bodies, to demand of individuals, to prescribe courses of action -- and from the human power of interaction. You can't convince people to be healed, no matter how eloquently you speak about disease and suffering or what you wear. You have to actually do something to make a person better. You also have to do the right thing. And if you don't, the consequences can be dire and literally deadly.

The Deans today have doubtless been shaped by their profession as much as their state of residence: Judy Dean wears exam-room shoes, a pair of comfortable slip-ons with rubber wedge heels that seemed a close relative of nurse's shoes, and Howard wears penny-loafers. He's got a pair of coke-bottle-thick gold-wire-rimmed aviator style glasses he wears sometimes when he thinks the press isn't looking. He still wears a square-faced, gold-tone watch that would look perfect poking out of a white, lab-coated sleeve. She doesn't wear make-up -- not even powder -- and looks like a person who has spent years in a job where how she looked was entirely secondary to what she could do. They are doctors, not Vermont hippies, and they helps explain their anti-aesthetic aesthetic as much as anything else.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.