When Donald Trump made his controversial jab at fellow Republican Candidate Carly Fiorina, “Look at that face…Would anyone vote for that?!” it was considered a low, below the belt comment. It was considered below the belt because candidates should be judged on their accomplishments, not looks and also misogynistic because women’s looks are typically prized more than men’s and Trump was simply parroting that same old frat-house mentality.
Trump should not have said the comment. It was “ugly”. However, that doesn’t mean that a lot of the people in the audience weren’t thinking the same exact thing. In many households across America, it was not on politicians stand on issues but it was the superficial: how poised they looked, how snappy they dressed, how unflappable they were in the face of criticism, how snappy their comebacks were. The famous Kennedy/Nixon Debate illustrates how powerful the visual image is on TV. Nixon (sweaty beady eyed) Kennedy (polished, tan, unsweaty). Truth is Fiorina does look like she’s had a lot of work done…also Trump has bad hair, Christie is fat and Fred Flintstone-ish, Bush (looks like a Mr Potato-head version of his brother) etc. When the TV Camera was on them, all their faults, including their sweatiness, facial tics, were highly magnified.
People say that they vote on issues not looks. But, what if Harrison Ford was standing on the podium, how many women in the audience would be that critical on his stand on illegal immigration? if Jessica Alba was a hard-liner against Planned Parenthood how many men would raise up their hands-not to land dates-but to disagree?
True appearance, most would argue, is not as important in politics since our politicians have a heavy influence over our quality of life in the same way that doctors and accountants are in charge of our money and health. So, they don’t have to be hot just good.
However, its different with the president. we have look at the president all the time: CNN, state of union, debates, adresses etc. and ugliness is hard to take for long periods of time. For example, I know lots of people who wont watch any show with Jay Leno or Steve Buscemi regardless of their talent. Paul Giamatti has to act his pants off in every role just to get work in the next.
Most would say they value experience and character over looks because they find it hard to admit that they could be superficial with such an important decision. I think in a lot of cases, its a more close contest. If Look at the last 6 or 7 political match-offs. The more attractive, dapper candidate in 9 out of 10 cases wins. You call it a coincidence, say they had other positive qualities that also went into the decision etc. But good looking people are always getting brownie points for things they don’t deserve…avoiding parking tickets, getting free food, skipping lines etc. If one day you are walking down the street and see two women are arguing on the street,who do you think is right? yep.. the better looking one. Sure…of course she’s the one that’s right.