Watchdog Blog

Gilbert Cranberg: Rick Perry, the Handsome Candidate

Posted at 3:21 pm, August 27th, 2011
Gilbert Cranberg Mug

Looks matter. They matter particularly in electoral politics. Would Rick Perry be anywhere near the top in polls if he were bald, potbellied, stooped, shrimpy, acned and spoke with a lisp? A lot of people seem willing to forgive or overlook oddball views if the speaker looks good.

The two women receiving the most attention in the GOP race are trim and easy on the eyes. But what if one or both were plus sized and as overweight as Chris Christie? The answer is obvious; there simply is no room in electoral politics for full-fashioned women.

Television makes it imperative for candidates of both sexes to be reasonably good-looking. Even in pre-television days FDR’s handlers went to great lengths to hide his infirmity. Old-timers tell me that when Roosevelt went to the Iowa statehouse in the 1930s to address the legislature the press and public were shooed from his car so that no one could witness his struggle to emerge. A special curtained walkway was constructed to prevent anyone from watching his painful progress to the chamber where he spoke.

Perry’s leading-man looks may or may not be an asset with women voters. An early Gallup poll breaking down Perry’s support by gender shows him doing somewhat better among men respondents than women. Nevertheless, it’s hard to believe that in a nation obsessed by appearance as this one is Perry’s looks won’t be a significant asset at the polls.

If he is the nominee, it will be especially incumbent on Democrats to prevent the public from being bamboozled by packaging. A handsome face in the White House won’t keep us out of war or put people to work. On the contrary, it could make it easier to sell people on dreadful policies severely harmful to the country. Rick Perry’s emergence as a front-runner means Democrats have their work cut out for them.

One Response to “Rick Perry, the Handsome Candidate”

  1. Yes says:

    You’re right.

Comments are closed.

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