The results are in, and I’m pleased to report that — based on some highly unofficial poll numbers — Susan Bysiewicz is a shoe-in to become the next U.S. Senator from Connecticut.
Literally, a shoe-in.
I mean, have you seen those pumps? The darling black ones, which despite being oh-so-functional, boast a surprising beige streak befitting a sartorially tasteful senatorial aspirant.
Middletown’s own Susan B caused a minor stir when she wore them a while ago while stopping in for her morning cuppa Joe at Klekolo World Coffee on Court Street. Exiting a black Ford four-door, she turned customers’ heads with those patent-leather show-stoppers.
“Now, there’s a woman who knows how to shop for a pair of shoes,” my friend Claude exclaimed.
You got that right, pal.
Could Congressman Chris Murphy do that? Hardly! Murphy, another highly touted Democratic hopeful to replace Connecticut’s departing senior U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, has a personal style that lies in that vast netherworld between frat-boy chic, sincere bureaucratic dweeb and hopeless policy wonk.
In a word: boring.
Lieberman’s style, for that matter, isn’t much to get fired up about. It’s Brooks Brothers Bland, the kind of look one associates with aging Ivy Leaguers who, perhaps, have overstayed their welcome. (Well, Joe, if the shoe fits …)
Republican businessman and failed gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, who’s also being touted to fill Lieberman’s slot, is a pretty prosaic dresser, too, though his white hair and ruddy good looks give him an appealing gravitas that could prove problematic come November 2012.
Susan B’s personal style is, well, comfortable. She seems pretty at home in everything, whether she’s rocking the de rigueur red power suit, the classic LBD or the cornflower blue frock she was seen wearing the other day around town. (“Heck, she looks pretty good even in jeans and a T-shirt,” one fan told me.)
In a manner appropriate to a politician, Bysiewicz walks a fine line between practical and just-stylish-enough to raise approving eyebrows.
In my own defense, I’m NOT a male chauvinist or sexist. Whether we like to admit it, politics, especially in the digital age, is performance art, an art in which personal style has tremendous power to move a fickle electorate. That is true whether the candidate is male or female.
Face it, would Barack Obama have been elected president if he looked like Barney Fife? The guy looks “presidential,” to use a phrase pundits, regardless of their party affiliation, toss around liberally come election season. It’s that presidential quality that has the GOP taking yet another look at Mitt Romney, a guy whose political negatives have, in the past, branded him an outcast.
I’m not saying that style trumps substance, or that style should trump substance, or that style ranks among the important qualities people ought to think about when they enter the voting booth. It’s part of the mix.
The fact is, ever since the highly-telegenic John F. Kennedy mopped up the proverbial floor with Richard M. Nixon in the 1960 presidential race, style is something all voters are aware of, consciously or not, when they’re deciding on which candidate to pledge their allegiance.
So, Susan, my hat’s off to you. You’ve got my vote on style points alone.
As for the all you undecideds out there, take a tip from this guy — who for the record is partial to all clothing bearing the affordable Wal-Mart tag — consider everything when casting your all-important ballot.
By all means look at the candidate’s stance on issues like taxes, trivial things like the federal budget deficit and continued funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Read their policy statements. But don’t disregard their fashion statements, either!