Cheers and Jeers

Columnist Says Women Vote on Image Alone

Monday, October 23, 2000

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas--This lively Tex-Mex city was bustling with media heavy hitters last week, here for the annual Associated Press Managing Editors convention.

And the local newspaper, the San Antonio Express News, a generally well-edited daily with an apparent deep commitment to its community, used the occasion to shine in front of its colleagues with its in-depth reportage on a local air force base's pollution of the area's precious water supply and an investigation into the deaths of 18 developmentally disabled patients in residential treatment centers, group homes and similar facilities.

The paper's featured columnist Susan Yerkes grabbed the moment to weigh in on how women voters analyzed each of the presidential candidates.

Under the headline, "Venus Vote: What Women Want in Prez," Yerkes wrote that she had watched the last debate with women of different ages, races, ethnicities and political persuasions.

Here's what she came away with: "Al Gore's highly polished boots were a hit, his 'coiffed' hair was not; George Bush's wingtips were 'wimpy' and his suit a 'fashion flop.' But he still scored high for charisma."

Yerkes quoted San Antonio communications strategist Mary Rauch at length about the candidates' body language, saying that women responded to the tilt of Gore's chin (too aggressive) or the way Bush folded his hands (seeming vulnerable).

Yerkes made no mention of abortion rights, child care, Social Security, prescription drugs, health care, education, gun control, violence against women, the Middle East, religious values or any other issue.

 
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