Translation, for all the “Spinal Tap” fans out there: What’s wrong with being sexy?

“We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do,” Meacham said, in a statement provided to Huffington Post. “We apply the same test to photographs of any public figure, male or female: does the image convey what we are saying? That is a gender-neutral standard.”…

Finally, as for the issue of whether the image is sexist, a source at Newsweek relays that the art and photo directors responsible for the cover (which was decided upon last Thursday) are both women.

Follow the link to HuffPo for a half-hearted defense of how the cover “conveys” what Newsweek was saying. Really? The point of Meacham’s and Thomas’s pieces was that she’s leading a dead-end right-wing populist movement that’s widening the ideological divide at a moment when America needs it to narrow. The point of the cover is … what? Sarah Palin likes to jog? Sarah Palin is in damned fine shape? Sarah Palin showing some leg might help sell a few more magazines? Where’s the “conveyance” in that? There’s nothing necessarily sexist about noting her physical appeal, even in the course of an otherwise serious political critique, but as a standalone image to introduce a bunch of pieces that dump on her, the subtext seems to be that she’s not worth taking seriously — and that her good looks symbolize that. I know women on both sides of the aisle who disprove that theory.

Sarahcuda lowered the boom on Newsweek last night via Facebook, as you’ve surely already seen, but David Brody was first out of the box among the people I read on the right to rip them for the cover, writing, “Where’s the sexy photo of Mitt Romney? Why not a picture of Tim Pawlenty with an unbuttoned shirt relaxing on a couch in the Twin Cities?” Fair enough, but have Mitt or T-Paw actually posed for any sexy photos? I wrote at the time that the Runner’s World pic first came out that it was essentially a check-me-out photo showing off what great shape she was in thanks to running, even after five kids. That doesn’t excuse Newsweek exploiting it for political purposes, but if the media’s as unfair to her as she claims — and it often is — then she had to know that eventually someone would use that photo in an unkind way. Or … was that the point? Bait her critics with a picture they couldn’t resist and then sit back as they walk into the trap?

Update: Then again, Sarahcuda did famously do an interview in front of a turkey slaughterhouse, producing a clip that run in a loop on MSNBC for about a week. Which means (a) this probably wasn’t a trap and (b) she really needs to think ahead when doing photo ops/shoots about her enemies might use the pics against her.