Nail-Polish Politics

Joanne Butler Contributor
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America’s politics-free zones continue to shrink.  I thought we had reached the limit when obituaries started to have political messages.  The other day, I read one that said the deceased was proud to cast her vote for the nation’s first female president.  Now I see that politics has intruded into a drugstore’s cosmetics aisle.

As a public service for my readers for whom the cosmetics aisle is unknown territory, allow me to describe what I saw – on the nail polish rack.  You read that correctly:  nail polish is going political.

A popular mid-range nail polish brand has a tradition of giving its colors edgy names.  This fall, the theme is ‘Washington, D.C.’.  How coincidental!

Names for the colors include:  Madam President, We the Female, Pale to the Chief, Kerry Blossom, Yank My Doodle, Never a Dulles Moment, CIA: Color Is Awesome, Stay Off the Lawn [presumably the White House’s], Freedom of Peach, By Popular Vote, and [my favorite] Squeaker of the House.

‘Never a Dulles Moment’ refers to Dulles International Airport, located in D.C.’s Virginia suburbs.  The color is lemon-yellow.

The airport is named for one of the most distinguished statesmen of the 1940s and 1950s:  John Foster Dulles.

In 1944 Dulles pushed to add a plank to the Republican platform stating support for a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine.  The next year, he helped draft the preamble to the United Nations charter, and for several years thereafter, he was the U.S. delegate to the U.N.

When Eisenhower was elected President in 1954, Dulles became his Secretary of State, a post he held to his death in 1959.  His tenure had its controversies, including persuading the French to decrease their presence in Vietnam so the United States could increase ours.

His discussions with Eisenhower, the former General who led the U.S. Army to victory in World War II’s European theater, must have been interesting, as Dulles was on the record as opposing America’s use of atomic weapons in Japan on Hiroshima and Nagasaki near the end of WWII.

But Eisenhower must have trusted him, as he never fired him.

Around the time of Dulles’ death, land planning was underway for the first international airport to service the D.C. region.  As part of the planning, Dulles’ name was added to the airport.  But unless one is a student of statecraft, Dulles’ name is unknown today.

Oddly enough, in Catholic circles, his son’s name (Avery) is familiar to many.  John Foster Dulles was a Presbyterian, a Princeton graduate and the son of a Presbyterian minister.

Avery, however, was a Harvard man who converted to Roman Catholicism. And he was not your average Catholic.  Rather, he was a Jesuit theologian of the old school (if you a attended a Jesuit Catholic high school in the 1950s you know what I mean). He also was a prolific writer who attained the rank of cardinal (highly unusual for a Jesuit).

If the shades of our ancestors can be shocked, John Foster and his minister-father would have been aghast to see one of their family receive the red hat from Rome.

But in 2016, alas, the distinguished Dulles name is relegated to yellow nail polish.

Earlier I had mentioned my favorite name was ‘Squeaker of the House’.  The manufacturer describes the color as: “A chocolate brown so yummy, it crosses party lines.”

The only image this name conjures up for me is Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi dressed up as Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  (Mouse: squeaks, ergo ‘squeakers’.)

One politics-free zone is a monastery.  I know this as I have a friend who’s a monk.  Although the monks vote, they take no newspapers and have no television.  And politics is a verboten topic during their recreation period.  My friend tells me that giving up his Beltway job and SUV for the monastery is turning out to be a great trade, especially in this election year.

I could never take that big monastic step.  But is it too much to ask that the cosmetics aisle be politics-free?  Apparently, it is.