Friday, April 18, 2008

Wardrobe Watch

Wow! I just read a blog response about Hillary that pretty much sums up everything I've been thinking: "What people fail to realize is, it doesn't matter what McCain and the Republicans intend to throw at Obama, Clinton betrayed the Democratic party and all it stands for. Nobody crosses that line. Nobody. The sore-loser kitchen-sink tactics that are 'toughening him up' are not for a fellow democrat, who has no chance of winning, to do! She is a traitor. A horrible team player who cannot be trusted. Hillary has proven time and time again, that she is disloyal to the party and people who made her first lady and a senator...."

It's definitely shown up as a problem, this thing about her character. There is an invisible line that has been fatally crossed--it lies somewhere between a decently willed intention never to give up and the ruthless desire to win at any cost. As far as I am concerned (and not to belabor the point, since I've already written about this several times), Hillary crossed that line several weeks ago. However, this is not what I want to talk about now.

Every time Virgil sees Hillary on TV, he punches the air and stomps. So I've been wondering what this is all about. He claims it has nothing to do with politics, or even bad behavior. "It's about her outfits," he explains. "She never wears the same clothes twice."

I've been wondering about that as well. How does Hillary maintain her turbo-charged wardrobe, managing to look like a longed-for Christmas present every single day, when she is permanently on the road without even a closet to call her own?

I think I was prompted to think about this because I am reading a book called "Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words," and the contrast between Peace Pilgrim and Hillary, most especially in the matter of their respective wardrobes, is so striking. In case you don't know who Peace Pilgrim is, she was a woman who walked "25,000 Miles on Foot for Peace," as described by the logo on the back of her tee shirt. After that, she stopped counting the miles, but kept on walking. From her initial pilgrimage in 1953 until 1981 when she was tragically killed in a car crash, Peace Pilgrim never gave up on her eternal quest for peace. "I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace," she stated, "walking until I am given shelter and fasting until I am given food."

She carried no money, kept no home, bore no other name. Peace Pilgrim owned only the clothes on her back--a pair of navy blue slacks, a navy tee shirt, and a tunic with special pockets sewn all around its hem in which she carried all her worldly possessions, which consisted of a comb, a folding toothbrush, a ball point pen, copies of her message, and her correspondence. She considered her walking not just a prayer for peace, but also a form of penance for "whatever I may have contributed by commission or omission to the tragic situation in the world today." Half a century ago, she desperately hoped that our war-weary world would somehow find the way to peace before a holocaust descends, and for this prayer, she gave up all claims to a name, personal history, and possessions. I can't help feeling that if she were still alive today, she would be running, not walking.

In light of Hillary's excesses, it's the wardrobe that somehow says it all--at least for me. For Peace Pilgrim, one outfit of clothing was enough. "I am not a slave to comfort and convenience," she said."I wouldn't be a pilgrim if I were." She washed her simple garments wherever she could, whether in a public restroom or a country stream, and dried them by wearing them on her body and letting the sun evaporate the water. Maintaining that she could adjust to any changes in temperature, she wore the same clothes in both summer and winter, indoors and out. Once a reporter asked if she carried a folding umbrella and she replied: "I won't melt. My skin is waterproof. I don't worry about little discomforts."

I have no idea where, or even when, Hillary shops. I don't know who does her hair every day. But I do know she always looks amazingly good, perfectly stitched, impeccably groomed. That said, it is Peace Pilgrim's remarkable blue slacks and straggly white hair that inspires me, and breaks my heart. Such is the symbolic and overwhelmingly pertinent triumph of the wardrobe.

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