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May 06, 2014 | US MADNESS

US Primaries: Lipstick Virility

That a war-veteran, hog-castrating "farm girl" would also be a gun-wielding, Harley-straddling, leather-adorned chick is no surprise to a casual observer of GOP's (and conservative at large) campaign antics. With her second TV ad Senatorial candidate Joni Ernst has therefore been treading on familiar, albeit absurd ground.


The ad has all the hallmarks of your typical conservative political promo: a husky-voiced narrator, an American flag flapping in the wind, some cheesy, simple-minded quips (she "carries more than lipstick in her purse") as well as a couple of soul-cringing literal puns ("take aim at wasteful spending" & "unload" on Obamacare).


It also appropriates and elaborates on the Palinesque persona that combines typically testosterone-fuelled male attributes (usually something gun-related) with overt female elements (overwrought hair and makeup, cardigans, etc). For a woman in conservative politics the later characteristics, although subordinate in meaning to the former, are essential in order not to allow even the flimsiest of gender confusion to emerge.


Thus, Joni may be clad in a manly oversized leather bike-jacket with boots to match, she may straddle a Harley and shoot the hell out her long-distance target, but crucially, all the while, she is immaculately coiffed (helmet or not!), manicured to perfection and professionally cared for with a lightly blushed complexion and moderately glossed lips. Furthermore, to balance the big-twin motorcycle she owns, she also sports a purse (as the narrator helpfully points out in case you missed it). There is no more reliable way to establish your female credentials than when you carry a purse.


A closer inspection of the commercial reveals some other pertinent clues as to this perky Senatorial aspirant's traits that can be worked into upcoming commercials. Her alabaster bleached dental work for example can surely be exploited to declare she is "not afraid to sink her teeth into the Washingtonian nitty-gritty". Her sturdy demeanor could also be further unfolded in other dynamic activities like lumberjacking ("to hatchet spendthrift entitlements from the budget"), scrap metal welding ("to cage the liberal apologists back into their burrows") and roadkill scavenging ("to expunge all congregational dead meat from Washington").


UPDATE | Jan 21, 2015: Having been triumphantly elected to the US Senate, she now seems poised to exploit both the straight-shooting talks and the androgynous persona traits that made her campaign so successful. Cue her SOTU rebuttal speech where she peppered her talk with personal anecdotes illustrating her humble, hard-working rise while showcasing a pair of camouflage heels.

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