In this week's New Yorker, Female Chauvinist Pigs scribe Ariel Levy has a profile of Cindy McCain, which does nothing to disabuse one of the superficial persona of Cindy Lou — she's a woman who comes off as a perfectly manicured heiress, who panics when her bubble of well-kept appearances is burst. Levy describes McCain as "pampered and brittle", "skittish", "wary-eyed", "fidgety" and "fussing," fragile in her size 0 St. John skirt suits. What the piece does illuminate, however, is Cindy's dissatisfaction with her role as political wife. It's almost as if Cindy McCain is a nouveau Betty Draper, bred to be the perfect wife and mother — even her sartorial choices are straight outta 1960 — who realizes after several years of neglect that her dream of the ideal family is actually more of a lonely slog through an ungilded reality.If you've been following the campaign closely, you're familiar with Cindy's biography. Born Cindy Hensley, heiress to the largest beer distributorship in Arizona. She met John in the late 70s while on vacation in Hawaii, and after a whirlwind romance, the two were married in 1980. Levy makes reference to the mini-scandal surrounding the McCain's initial courtship, (John was still married to his first wife, who had been crippled in a car accident); she discusses Cindy's involvement with Operation Smile and Mrs. McCain's lil' painkiller addiction that involved her stealing money from a medical charity she ran. But at the beginning of their relationship, a McCain friend told the New Yorker, "Cindy stood for everything he didn't have in prison. This was the sweet, innocent, pure American dream." And it seems that in someways, their marriage is set up to preserve John's idealized notions of Cindy, since he barely deals with her in reality. Cindy often brags about how she adopted a daughter from Bangladesh without telling John. She has said, "For most of the twenty years we've been married, he's been in Washington all week while I'm in Arizona with the kids. I've never spent this much time with my husband." Levy observes: "John McCain seems to gravitate toward women who endure pain in silence." Like her husband, who seems to gloss over the familial reality to paint a pretty, loving picture, Cindy McCain has covered over all those unhappy circumstances of her past. When speaking at her father's funeral, her half-sister was in the audience, and Cindy referred to herself, quite callously, as an "only child." Perhaps her painkiller addiction, which was uncovered by her parents (John McCain only found out his wife was a pillhead when he was informed that the DEA was investigating her charity), helped her blot out all the nastiness so her internal image was the same as her plucked and groomed exterior. There's a passage towards the beginning of Levy's profile that essentially explains Cindy's entire persona, and I'll repeat it here to save you the trouble of reading those many thousand words. "Since childhood, McCain has been expected to embody certain pillars of conventional femininity; beauty, refinement, altruism, and an inclination to encourage the ambitious men in her life," Levy writes. "She is probably better suited to this particular formulation of public wifehood than the outspoken, muscular, and frankly powerful Michelle Obama. But if you watch her closely, from time to time you can see Cindy McCain slip out of character." It's like Cindy is going through her own personal 60s revolution, like Betty Draper. She's realizing that keeping up appearances is untenable in a modern political world. The Lonesome Trail [New Yorker] Earlier: Cindy McCain's Marriage Is Not Exactly A Straight Talk Express Oh, About That First Wife
I'm kind of uncomfortable with a couple things here, chief among them is this...
"John McCain seems to gravitate toward women who endure pain in silence."
Who says she's enduring any pain as a result of him being away? And even if she does, who says McCain finds that attractive about her. I have many attributes, not all of them are what attract my husband to me (my insane crankiness when I don't eat every two hours, for example...)If a reporter said this about Michelle Obama, how would we feel? There seem to be a lot of assumptions here. Maybe not all of them are off the mark, but I don't like teh assumptions.
I also don't know how relevant her being a size zero is. It automatically assumes she is a size zero by choice to appeal to the crowd. That's not fair.