REALLY? DID A LOT OF OUR PREVIOUS PRESIDENTS LOOK LIKE GAME SHOW HOSTS?
Steve Benen flags Richard Cohen's latest column, in which the Washington Post pundit and weathervane predicts great success for Rick Perry, in part because Perry (in Cohen's words) "actually looks like a president."
And why does Perry "look like a president"? Presumably for the same reasons Romney [allegedly] does -- he's a handsome, middle-aged white man.
I realize perceptions like these become ingrained over the course of many decades, and these media observations are not intended to be racist of misogynistic. Handsome, middle-aged white men have been the presidential norm for generations. I get that.
I don't get that. How many of our past presidents have actually looked like local news anchormen or game show hosts? How many of them have actually had that bland, lowest-common-denominator small-screen semi-handsomeness?
The storied presidents of the past -- Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts -- were average-looking at best. Even in the modern era, when we expect our presidents to have "charisma," many of the most consequential have been plain or unattractive: Eisenhower, LBJ, and Nixon, for instance, all of whom won landslide electoral victories despite their looks. Even the recent presidents who've been regarded as having sex appeal by their most fervid fans -- JFK, Clinton, Obama, W -- haven't been classically handsome. (Though regarding George W. Bush, Karl Rove may beg to differ.)
And how is blandly handsome our national standard? Really, how many presidents have we had who looked like Chuck Woolery?
Who were they? I can't name them.